Save the Children at 100: We Must Stop the War on Children

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (May 16, 2019) – From Australia to Afghanistan and Uganda to the United States, Save the Children is marking its 100th anniversary today with a clear and urgent message: we must “Stop the War on Children.”

Despite global progress for children, including advances in child health, education and protection, the impact of conflict on children has never been higher. Just today, heavy airstrikes in the Yemen capital Sana’a killed at least four children and many were injured. Globally, 420 million children—1 in 5—are living near conflict zones. That is more children at risk than at any point since 1990 when records on children and armed conflict started to be kept. These children are at an increased risk of being killed, injured, abducted, recruited by armed groups, and becoming victims of sexual violence. 

New analysis from Save the Children even shows that landmines, unexploded weapons, air strikes and other forms of explosives account for nearly three in four child deaths and injuries across the world’s deadliest war zones. Children are uniquely injured and impacted by explosive weapons compared to adults and often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.

“It’s the twenty-first century, but the world is going backwards on our principles and standards of what is right when it comes to the treatment of children,” said Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children. “Every child deserves a future but all too often, children are facing severe and long term effects from conflict.”

At the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands, government representatives, youth leaders, and keynote speakers including Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court participated in the Stop the War on Children Symposium. They discussed need to ensure that children are better protected now and in the future and that violators are held to account.

Youth leaders from Syria and Nigeria presented the UN High Commissioner and Her Royal Highness Princess Viktória of The Netherlands with a 10-point charter that sets out key points to ensure that children are protected during conflicts.

At Save the Children’s U.S. headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut, children’s voices ruled the day, with students taking over the agency’s website and social media feeds. One critical component of making the world better for children is allowing them to have a say in the issues that are important to them.

My grandparents lived in a war zone, and were unable to be in school until the age of seven, which greatly pushed them back,” said Nicole (16), who participated in the social media takeover.I am personally fortunate to have started my education at an early age and without any threat from war, but many children today don't have this chance. In Syria and Yemen, 4 million children total are not enrolled in school due to the wars, which is why it is so critical to make an effort to stop the war on children.”

Save the Children is calling on world leaders and governments to take a stand against the war on children in three specific ways. Governments need to stand up for, and follow, the rules of war that make it illegal to bomb children. They must hold perpetrators to account, and they must provide medical and mental health support on the ground for children to recover.

“Progress is possible – we’ve seen it in areas like controlling the use of landmines, actions taken to end child recruitment and implementing measures to keep schools safe in conflict,” added Miles. “But it is simply not enough. More action must urgently be taken now. The war on children will only stop when all of us – from citizens and community leaders to military commanders and heads of state – stand up and say that children should always be off-limits in conflict.”

Save the Children was founded a century ago by Eglantyne Jebb, who started a campaign to save suffering children in Europe in the wake of World War One. One hundred years later, the global humanitarian and development organization is still working hard to help the most marginalized children, now in over 100 countries including in the United States.

The public is encouraged to join in Save the Children’s centennial by donating their birthday, or nominating a Changemaker for Children. Supporters can also stand up for kids by joining the Stop the War on Children campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


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