Children again bearing the brunt of an internal conflict: Are enough regional resources available for advocacy to prevent conflict-related injuries?

Oxford Research Group, UK claims that more than 11 000 children have died as a result of the recent internal conflict in Syria – a conflict which thus far has resulted in more than hundred thousand deaths and over 2 million people displaced.

[Link to news post: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25055956].

The statistics collected by Oxford Research Group, UK are from March 2011 to August 2013. They include children aged 17 years or less, and considered only deaths of named victims with an identified cause of death. The analysis provides details about the circumstances of these deaths which included indiscriminate firing, summary executions, target killing (sniper fire), as well as torture. While most child deaths occurred in governorate of Aleppo, the report showed that at least 1 in 500 children died in the governorates of Deraa, Idlib, and Homs. Undoubtedly, the effects of this conflict will be long felt by the next generation in Syria and the region.

I appreciate that this report produced by an international research group attempted to measure the burden of this conflict on children. The authors have acknowledged that their statistics may be incomplete, and it is likely that more children have died as a result of this conflict. The internal conflicts, wars and violence are now responsible for about 40% of injury deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean region which includes some of the highest hit countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Tunisia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. [Link to report: http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/92/1/7.full (see page 25)]. Authentic and scientific documentation to highlight the burden of injuries in above conflict zones is however rare.

Editor: I am wondering whether the international and regional communities have dedicated enough resources to address the issue of conflict-related injuries in children. To me, more efforts are dedicated to immediate needs such as food, water and sanitation, while less attention is dedicated to injuries, which are common in conflicts. Advocacy can generate much needed support for physical disabilities and psychological problems in the affected children as well as prevention. The Eastern Mediterranean Region’s economy hugely benefits from natural resources, and in my opinion, some the resources should be made available for advocacy as well as conflict-related burden assessment and prevention efforts.

Acknowledgement: G. Tung.

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