UN Report Reveals Rising Number of Child Soldiers in the Middle East
Within the past several years, a great deal of war, conflict, and sheer tragedy has plagued the Middle East. Specifically, wars have been raging on and on in the countries of Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Accordingly, pictures of homeless elders, image of school aged children in diasporic circumstances, and realities like disease, hunger, refugee camps, and children missing years of fundamental schooling, have become extremely common place.
Another direct consequence of these wars is the unfortunate use of child soldiers. Just this week, UNICEF has published a report indicating that the number of child soldiers in the MENA region has doubled since last year.
The report has specifically indicated that the amount of child soldiers – who are actively in combat – has increased five times since the last report was published in 2015. The report went to add that the one in five Syrian children are in direct need and are exclusively reliant on humanitarian assistance. The direct impact of this – according to the report – is that Syrian children are vulnerable to be used by all sides of the civil war; their need for food, money, resources, education, and sometimes even a new family means that these children are easy recruits for armed organizations.
If this trend continues, the report adds, the number of child soldiers will continue to dramatically increase throughout the upcoming years. UNICEF’s Regional Director, Geert Cappelaere, has stated the following, whilst commentating on this tragic increase in numbers
With no end in sight to these conflicts and with families’ dwindling financial resources, many have no choice but to send their children to fight, or work, or marry their daughters early. Conflict continues to rob millions of girls and boys of their childhood. It is not surprising that the number of children affiliated with the fighting has more than doubled.