armed conflict

The World's Ten Worst Child Danger Spots

A displaced child at Aboushouk camp in Norther Darfur
REUTHERS/Nima Elbagirt

  • Nearly 11 million children a year die before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes.
  • Out of 100 children born in 2000, 30 will likely suffer malnutrition and 17 will never go to school.
  • An estimated 218 million children are used for labour, millions in virtual slavery.
  • An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year for labour or sex.
  • There are over 300,000 child soldiers, some as young as eight, in more than 30 countries.
  • More than 2 million children are thought to have died in armed conflict in the past decade.
  • Up to 10,000 children are killed or maimed by landmines each year.
  • An estimated 100 million women and girls have undergone genital mutilation.
Sources: UNICEF, International Labour Organization

Children in Danger

Some 1.8 million children have been affected by a three-year conflict in Darfur, according to the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), where they risk being recruited to fight and are especially vulnerable to disease and malnutrition.

"It is a traumatised population and you can see it in the children's faces," said Hollywood actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Mia Farrow, who last month visited camps for some of the 2.5 million displaced by Darfur's war.

"Everyone has lost family, seen villages burn, seen relatives raped, been raped."

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres - who selected Congo, Uganda and the Sudan/Chad border, where some 200,000 refugees from Darfur eke out an existence - pointed to the physical and psychological consequences of living in crowded, underfunded camps "which are not conducive for a healthy child development".

In southern Sudan, children also suffer the effects of low-level violence, poverty and a lack of basic services. The region is struggling to recover from a 21-year civil war with the north that killed 2 million people, as 600,000 refugees forced to flee the country trickle home.

AlertNet, a humanitarian news website run by Reuters Foundation, asked 112 aid experts and journalists to highlight the world's most dangerous places for children.

After Sudan, they chose northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Somalia, India, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Myanmar - with the top three clearly ahead.

More than 2 million children worldwide have died as a direct result of armed conflict in the past decade, and about 20 million have been forced to flee their homes, according to UNICEF. More than a million have been orphaned or separated from their families.


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