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2017 was a 'nightmare year' for children in conflict, United Nations says

30 December 2017
2017 was a 'nightmare year' for children in conflict, United Nations says

UNICEF, which is the children's arm of the United Nations called on warring parties to respect worldwide law created to protect the most vulnerable.

In Syria and Iraq, children were used as human shields and targeted by snipers regularly this year, and at least 625 children died in Syria in 2016.

UNICEF, or the United Nations Children's Fund, is a UN program that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers across the developing world.

Children caught in war zones are increasingly being used as weapons of war - recruited to fight, forced to act as suicide bombers, and used as human shields, Unicef has warned.

Justin Forsyth, UNICEF's deputy director, says that, in recent years and even more so in 2017, children are deliberately targeted in conflict zones to make them part of the conflict.

"As these attacks continue year after year, we can not become numb. Such brutality can not be the new normal", he continued.

700 - Number of children killed in Afghanistan in the first nine months of the year.

Children are raped, forced into marriage, abducted and enslaved, and UNICEF says the physical and mental impact of this brutality upon children is unbearable and deeply traumatic.

The report also highlighted concerns about child recruitment and abduction in Somalia and Central African Republic, while in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 850,000 children have been displaced by fighting.

In Somalia, almost 1,800 children were recruited to fight in the first 10 months of the year.

Around 220,000 children lived under constant threat of mines and under explosive remnants of war in eastern Ukraine.

Children account for more than half of the 655,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled violence in western Myanmar since August 2017.

The UN's fund calls on all parties to conflict to adhere to their obligations under global law to stop violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, as soon as possible.

In Yemen, where at least 5,000 children have died in the civil war that has raged for nearly three years, more than 11m children are now in need of humanitarian assistance.

UNICEF also called on states with influence to use that influence to protect children.

Across all these countries, UNICEF works with partners to provide the most vulnerable children with health, nutrition, education and child protection services.