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Children and the economy, most affected by conflicts

22.08.2019
Article from AFRIC Editorial
When a country is plagued by conflicts and war, grave consequences follow suit, either during or after the war. Experience has shown that children, women and the economy are the most affected in times of turmoil. Political and social violence in most African countries and beyond have been the order of the day. Countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Cameroon, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Yemen and Iraq among others have seen dark days of war and conflicts that have had devastating effects. In most cases, these unfortunate scenarios often lead to a halt in education, economic activities, hamper health facilities and insecurity.

It is but obvious that wars and conflicts are unavoidable, but most at times, wars and conflicts emanate from human greed and egoism. Even though some minds argue that wars are for a good cause, some ‘’useless’’ wars, especially political infighting have torn nations apart, made children and the economy very susceptible. Apart from the devastating effects of war on children and women, it has been widely seen that countries plagued by conflicts and wars have seen their economies dwindled. Most at times, governments channel the resources that could be used to spur development to purchase weapons. An example of such a country is South Sudan. A UN report in 2017 revealed that South Sudan spends much of its oil money on security including the purchase of arms, even as the country remained in dire need of food and other amenities. This allegation was however rejected by Salva Kiir’s government.

The United Nations international Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF in one of its findings reported that children are exposed to sexual abuse trafficking during times of crisis and wars.  The most disheartening of these consequences is the recruitment of children as child soldiers by rebel groups in conflict zones.  It actually takes a long time for these children to be rehabilitated after such gruesome wars. However, thanks to some non-governmental organizations like UNICEF, millions of children in Africa and beyond have been saved, joined to their families and reintegrated into society.

Recent revelations in Mali

Latest reports by the United Nations show that more than 150 children have lost their lives while 75 have been severely injured as a result of persistent war in the country. The same findings revealed that the number of child soldiers recruited by armed men in the troubled west African nation have significantly increased in 2019 as compared to the previous year. Hence, this clearly defines how susceptible Malian children have become in the face of war. However, UNICEF has urged the warring parties to settle their difference and save the children from the dangers of war. The government of President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita since 2012 has been making enormous efforts to tackle the upheaval that has brought instability to his country. The Tuareg rebels in Northern Mali have carried out series of attacks in the country, posing a security threat.

The Central African Republic

Children in the Central African Republic have greatly paid the price for the war between the anti balaka and seleka rebels. The armed groups waged a war against the government of then president Francois Bozize. Trapped in the war and at the mercy of rebel groups, about 2000 children were trapped and made child soldiers in 2013, figures which UNICEF said drastically increased in 2015 with about 6,000 and 10,000 children were recruited as child soldiers.  Apart from being recruited as child soldiers, children in war torn nations undergo all forms of abuse. The Central African Republic is a clear example, where French peacekeepers allegedly raped and sodomized vulnerable children. This followed a UN report that children as young as eight years old were raped by French soldiers in exchange for food and money, an allegation which the French government under then president Francois Hollande refuted. Notwithstanding, the government of incumbent president Faustin Archange Touadéra is bent on putting an end to the political impasse that has crumbled the economy of the mineral and oil rich central African nation.  Expectations are high for the recently inked peace deal between the government and the rebel groups to materialize, thus opening the doors of peace and stability to the country. Since the signing of the deal in Khartoum this year, the number of violent attacks have greatly dwindled in the country.

The Republic of Cameroon

The war that has been dragging on for over three years in the predominantly English speaking regions of Cameroon has had grave effects on the population especially the young people. Education in the crisis zones has been stalled for three years now, and the prospect for schools re-opening this coming September 2019 is very timid. According to reports, over 80% of schools have remained inactive in the North West and South Regions of Cameroon, thus affecting over six hundred children, as they have been deprived the right to education. As per UNICEF’s reports, over 300 students and teachers have been abducted since 2018. The fate for a once hailed peaceful and united Cameroon remains in the dark as efforts by the Cameroon government to avert the crisis have remained futile.

Reckoning how devastating wars and conflicts could be on children and the economy is very unpractical, however,  it is now left for governments to fully implement possible reforms that would pacify the population.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

Photo Credit : google image/illustration

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