“Behind every child is a story”

A small child in front of the ruins of his house © Ruslan Shugushev (shutterstock)

415 million children grow up in wars and conflicts worldwide, reports the children's rights organization Save The Children. The report, "War on Children," states, 12.125 children had been killed and maimed in conflicts, they said.

Interviewer: Where is the world most dangerous for children??

Claudia Kepp (press spokeswoman "Save the Children"): We identified ten countries in particular. Among them are – this will surprise no one – Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and so on… And what we must not forget above all else: Behind all these 415 million children are 415 million stories. These are the stories, for example, of a little girl, eight years old, living in Afghanistan, who knows nothing but war. And it's about being afraid to go to school. She is afraid of being kidnapped, stepping on a landmine or losing her life. These are the realities behind these figures.
Interviewer: We are talking about violations of children's rights. It's actually quite an unwieldy word to begin with. When you hear what that means, it makes you feel different.
Kepp: You are right, especially if you have children like me. It really gets under your skin. It is about killing and maiming. It's about forced recruitment, it's about kidnapping, it's about rape or other kinds of sexual violence. And of course there are also attacks on schools, which are increasingly becoming military targets. Ultimately, the denial of humanitarian aid is another tactic of war. That is, it is always the life of children worldwide at stake.
Interviewer: The latest report examined for the first time how the six most serious child rights violations affect girls and boys differently. Where are the differences?
Kepp: Boys are more likely to be killed in direct acts of war. This is also due to the fact that they are often forcibly recruited as child soldiers. And girls suffer from sexual violence, from rape, from early marriage.
Interviewer: "It is staggering that the world stands by while children are targeted with impunity." Susanna Kruger, chief executive of Save The Children, says. How can the world help children in these conflicts and protect them better??
Kepp: Especially at the time of the Munich Security Conference, it is of great concern to us to appeal to those responsible for global politics. Above all, it is a matter of ensuring that international standards are adhered to. If this is not the case, the perpetrators of these war crimes must be held accountable. And – very importantly – funding for child protection is underfunded and urgently needs to be increased.
Interviewer: The Munich Security Conference starts this weekend, experts and government leaders will meet there. What do you expect from such a conference??

Kepp: Hopefully a change for the better. And above all, awareness that it is always the children who suffer the most and who can be especially protected. We are seeing it right now with the current developments in Syria. There, in Idlib, there are 60 bombings a day. The children have no more protection, they have no more possibility to flee. And the world must not accept this any longer. The powerful must act, as quickly as possible. War against children must not be allowed to continue.

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