The Child Victims of War

Syrian rebels claim that President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons this week to kill another 1200 of his own people. Over 100,000 have died in the past two years in Syria’s civil war.

Footage has been provided of children choking, adults writhing in pain, and bodies stacked in temporary morgues like so much cordwood. Hammish de Bretton-Gordon, a British counter-terrorism expert, has said these symptoms are consistent with a chemical attack.

Since the rebels are not thought to possess the sophisticated weaponry required, the attack is more likely to have originated with Assad’s forces.

Adults can decide which side to support in a war; can argue their actions are justified, and believe their deaths meaningful.  Children do not have such options. These victims of war often cannot comprehend why anyone would harm them.  Their world is simply thrown into chaos. Loved ones disappear. Horror prevails.  Deprivation becomes the norm for those few who survive at all.

UNICEF estimates that, during a recent ten-year period, fully 2 million children died as the result of armed conflict; 6 million more were injured or disabled [1].

About 15,000 – 20,000 people are killed or maimed each year by landmines or other explosive remnants of war (ERW) [2][3]. Approximately one in every five victims is a child, and 85% of children die from their injuries before reaching a hospital [4].  Children are more likely than adults to handle these dangerous devices from curiosity, assuming them to be toys [5].

Another Mother for Peace, an anti-war group from the ‘60s, was known for the slogan, “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”  The merits and shortcomings of pacifism cannot be resolved by a sentence or two.  We can all, however, agree that war is not healthy for children. Those engaging in it should make absolutely certain there is no better course.

[1] Human Rights Watch, Armed Conflict: Child Casualties of War.
[2] and [4] UNICEF, Children and Landmines: A Deadly Legacy.
[3] Care in Landmines: The Hidden Menace places the figure at 26,000 deaths.
[5] UNICEF, Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.


1 Comment

Filed under Justice, Law, Politics

One response to “The Child Victims of War

  1. Pingback: The Child Victims of War | justiceforkevinandjenveybaylis

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