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16 M babies born in conflict zones this year

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - More than 16 million babies were born in conflict zones in 2015, or one in eight of all births around the world this year, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“Every two seconds, a newborn takes its first breath in the midst of conflict, often in terrifying circumstances and without access to medical care,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said yesterday.

Lake noted that “too many children are now starting their lives in extreme circumstances – from conflict to natural disasters, poverty, disease or malnutrition.”

“Can there be a worse start in life?” he asked.

UNICEF said the figure underscores the vulnerability faced by increasing numbers of children.

In conflict-affected countries such as Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, or on perilous journeys to escape fighting, newborn children and their mothers face enormous risks. 

Pregnant mothers are in danger of giving birth without medical help and in unsanitary conditions. Their children are more likely to die before they reach their fifth birthdays and to experience extreme – or “toxic” – stress, which can inhibit their long-term emotional and cognitive development. 

UNICEF reported that in addition to conflict, poverty, the effects of climate change and lack of opportunity are making children increasingly vulnerable and have pushed millions on dangerous journeys away from their homes. 

Data show that more than 200,000 children applied for asylum in European Union countries in the first nine months of 2015, adding to the 30 million children across the globe forced from their homes by 2014 due to war, violence and persecution. 

More people are displaced now than at any moment since World War II. 

More than a quarter of a billion children – or one in nine – live in countries and areas in conflict and face enormous obstacles to their health, education and wellbeing. 

More than half a billion children live in areas where floods are extremely common and nearly 160 million live in high or extremely high drought severity zones. 

UNICEF pointed out that children represent almost half of all people living in extreme poverty although they make up roughly a third of the world’s population.

“The final months of 2015 have seen the world come together around tackling climate change and a new global development agenda. These ambitious agreements present a huge opportunity if we can translate our promises into action for the most vulnerable children,” said Lake.  

 

ACIRC

ANTHONY LAKE

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

CHILDREN

CONFLICT

EUROPEAN UNION

NBSP

SOUTH SUDAN

SYRIA AND YEMEN

UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN

WORLD WAR

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