The Jakarta Post
Today, a happy and peaceful world in which peace, benevolence and beauty prevail is the aspiration of all mankind.
While oppression and sedition encompass the Earth, children are those who suffer most from these problems. However, a promising future is only possible through the healthy physical, mental and social development of children.
The statistics about children, on the other hand, make the blood of people with good conscience run cold: About two million children die of hunger and hunger-related reasons every year.
There are 600 million children living below the poverty line. Millions of children do not have access to drinkable, clean water. More than one billion children are living in war-affected regions.
It is reported that about 10 million children were killed in wars; many more were kidnapped, enslaved, exposed to torture, orphaned and that children who were left alone in refugee camps are subjected to violence and abuse, that many children were forced to join in gangs or army, in the last 10 years. About 300,000 children have joined the fighting in more than thirty war zones.
Those children who live in war and conflict zones, or who are forced to fight in battles, are certainly subjected to the most severe levels of abuse and neglect. Their most fundamental rights, including the right to life, health, education and housing are being violated. While they constantly struggle to survive under the threat of death due to the indiscriminate air raids, they may still lose their lives or be injured by unexploded ordnance and landmines even after the end of conflicts.
Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, stressed that children are harmed the most by the conflicts and acts of violence across Africa and Asia and especially in the Middle East with the following words: 'Children were disproportionately affected, displaced and often the direct targets of acts of violence intended to cause maximum civilian casualties and terrorize entire communities.'
She also called on all of the member states of the UN to maintain sustainable reintegration programs for former child soldiers.
Syrian children, beyond all question, are the ones whose lives are primarily under threat because of war. UNICEF spokeswoman for Regional Office for the Middle East Juliette Touma emphasizes that more than 8 million Syrian children are the victims of civil war:
'There is no safe place left for children in Syria. More than 8 million children, among these being 6 million children in Syria and 2.1 million in neighboring countries, are the victims of the war. Further, 2 million children cannot attend school. More than 700,000 Syrian refugee children in neighboring countries are out of school.'
In a Human Rights Watch report dated Nov. 8 2015, 16-year-old Rasha states that it is hard for her to get used to being out of school and says: 'When I picture my future, I see nothing.'
It is needless to say that this heartbreaking statement is the reflection of the feelings of many more millions of children.
There is another issue that should be placed at the forefront of the world's agenda and requires an immediate solution: 70,000 children are born each year without a homeland in the twenty countries in which many stateless people live due to certain reasons such as ethnic identity, war and displacement. Around the world, a child is born stateless every 10 minutes.
It is an affront to humanity that as many as 250 million children worldwide are thought to be working, deprived of adequate education, health services and basic freedoms. Child labor, a major problem for human development, manifests itself differently in almost every country in the world.
Millions of children are forced or obliged to work under appalling conditions harmful to the child's physical, mental, educational, moral or social development, violating international standards.
Child marriage is another issue requiring an immediate solution. Fourteen million girls are forced to marry every year. Bringing an end to child marriage is achievable primarily through the acknowledgement of children's human rights.
One thing is certain that all children in the world are born with an intrinsic worth as a human being. However, the rights of children have been seriously violated for various reasons, including an increase in immigration, economic crises, rising poverty and unemployment, rapid urbanization, high numbers of children and youth population, wars, terrorism and domestic violence in the recent years.
All of these problems children are subjected to certainly attract the attention of international community; however, the steps being taken have proven insufficient and ineffective. In order to eliminate child smuggling and trafficking and to prevent their being forced to work in exchange for a debt or as a drug addict, their being forced to join an army or being used in illegal activities such as the cultivation and trafficking of drugs, it is necessary to immediately put the solutions formulated by the UN into action.
In an attempt to end this oppression of children, substantial solutions and policies should be contemplated; the efforts of people, institutions and organizations should be enhanced, and the children under risk should be identified and taken under social protection and sufficient amounts of investments should be made on social security.
It is blindingly obvious that everyone is responsible for saving children, who are both the present and the future of the world, from their current situation. Bearing in mind that watching oppression from a distance and sitting on your hands is a form of oppression itself, everyone should take on responsibility and go the extra mile so that the children who are being denied their basic rights can regain their freedom in no time.
The writer has authored books on politics and religion
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