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2014 most devastating year for children: Unicef

December 09, 2014 13:40 IST

The United Nations Children's Fund on Tuesday said that 2014 has been "devastating" for some 15 million children caught up in violent conflicts around the world.

According to a UN News Centre report, as many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and in the Occupied Palestinian territories - including those displaced in their own countries or living as refugees outside their homeland.

"This has been a devastating year for millions of children," said Anthony Lake, Unicef Executive Director, in a press release issued by his organization.

"Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves," Lake said.

He further said"Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality."

And an estimated 230 million children live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts, it said.

Yet, Unicef said: "The sheer number of crises in 2014 meant that many were quickly forgotten or captured little attention."

"Protracted crises in countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, continued to claim even more young lives and

futures," it said.

The children's agency went on to say that 2014 has also posed significant new threats to children's health and well-being, most notably the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.

"Violence and trauma do more than harm individual children - they undermine the strength of societies," said Lake. "The world can and must do more to make 2015 a much better year for every child."

In 2014, Unicef said children have been kidnapped from their schools or on their way to school, recruited or used by armed forces and groups. It also noted a rise in attacks on education and health facilities and use of schools for military purposes.

Unicef said it and its partners have worked together to provide life-saving assistance and other critical services like education and emotional support to help children growing up in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

In Central African Republic, a campaign is under way to get 662,000 children back to school as the security situation permits.

Nearly 68 million doses of the oral polio vaccine were delivered to countries in the Middle East to stem a polio outbreak in Iraq and Syria.

In South Sudan, more than 70,000 children were treated for severe malnutrition.

In Ebola-hit countries, work continues to combat the virus through support for community care centres and Ebola treatment Units.

Source: ANI