Children without Childhoods on a War-torn Globe

Yemeni children stand outside the Huwaiti home, as the mother of Mohammad and Ahmad mourns. She lost both of her sons, ages 17 and 14, who were selling produce on the side of the road, to a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in Al Joob village. Image Credit : Alex Potter

The child is the father of man is a common saying but seldom do we understanding its true meaning.  It points toward the idea that children when endowed with the appreciative atmosphere, the right exposure to good books and ideas, to people who have created a good example in the society and when given an education that nourishes their creative self-have the potential to create a society that is better than what the earlier generation had left them with. Children, with their innocence have insight and intuition, potential and vision and when complemented with an empowering environment they can transform the world.

What is of critical significance to the nurturance of childhood is the impartation of quality education.  Education enables the child to learn about the self and the world around her, to equip her with knowledge and skills that not only fetch a better job but also a clearer perspective of looking at the world and above all, it is education that enables the child to make the most of her potential. It is ironic that when gigantic nation-states fight in the name of national boundaries, natural resources, disputed territories or simply to claim supremacy in the world affairs- it is the vulnerable children that are most adversely impacted.  

In no part of the world do children establish nation-states, children don’t sign or decline treaties for peace, children don’t bombard other nations for a claim over its resources and children don’t implement dominating policies. Why then do we allow children to become the silent victims of statist violence and war? In Palestine’s Bedouin community, the children have been protesting outside the ruins of the school building that has been destroyed in war. This was the only school in the community and now that it has been devastated, the children have nowhere to go. The school was destroyed by the Israeli helicopters. The Israeli Defence Force has earlier destroyed the educational buildings in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

Yemen Children trying to get food | Image – Twitter

The school of the Bedouin community that was recently destroyed was an asset for the community because when it had not been built, the children had to walk as far 4 kilometres to reach the school. The close proximity of this school had encouraged many families to send their children to school in recent years but its devastation has epitomised hopelessness in the community.

The building has been damaged six times since 2016. The school had to do with makeshift tents until the structure could be reasonable built but the state of affairs now means that it would take years for a school to be established in the area again. The damage that has been created has impacted the psyche of the children for whom education seems to be the only way forward to a good life amid the turbulence in the homeland.

A similarly pathetic condition can be witnessed in war torn Yemen. The people of Yemen have been pleading for peace but the world community seems to have for long offered a deaf ear. Today it is known that around 85,000 children below the age of five have died due to malnutrition in Yemen since 2015.  The Saudi-led Gulf forces have blocked all channels of food transport leading to more than half of Yemen’s population suffering from malnutrition. Renewed attacks on ports from where food supply reached Yemen have further lead to this grave concern.

It was approximately 84,701 children in Yemen who are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition and died because of it between 2015-2018. Many children in Yemen are undergoing the painful process of slow organ failure, weakening of the immune system and other diseases. The conflict in Yemen began in 2015 when Saudi Arabia led Gulf forces backed by the United States, France and United Kingdom began air strikes against the rebellious Shia Houthis, with a mission to restore the regime of Abradullag Mansour Hadi.  The war between nation-states has implied that vulnerable lives are suffering ceaselessly. What about the childhood of the children who are growing up in such difficult times? No schooling, no playing, no sustained nurturance, no healthcare and quality food supply- what will the future of children in war affected states be?

It is indeed a matter of shame for the global citizenry that we are letting innocent children be deprived of their childhood. It certainly is the opportune moment to alter things for the positive.

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