Your support has helped children fighting the effects of conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory and across the world. But our Stop the War on Children campaign will ensure that more is done to make them off limits.
Children are more at risk in conflict zones than any time in the last 20 years
For 13-year-old Ali*, just walking to school can be a terrifying experience.
The teenager from the West Bank, in the occupied Palestinian territory, has to negotiate military checkpoints on a daily basis and lives in fear of violence. “Living here and having to pass through checkpoints scares me,” he adds. “If I had grown up in a different place, everything would have been easy.”
Over the last year, clashes between Palestinians and Israelis have left hundreds of children dead across the territory, which also includes the Gaza Strip. Schools have been attacked, houses have been demolished and in Gaza, poor sanitation and food shortages are rife.
But Ali and other Palestinian children are far from the only young people around the world whose lives are marred by violence. Around a fifth of children globally now live in conflict zones, in countries such as Afghanistan. Around 10,000 were killed or seriously injured as a direct consequence in 2017, while more than 100,000 babies die each year due to knock-on effects, such as a loss of healthcare. Children are also orphaned, traumatised and lose their homes.
Our founders Eglantyne Jebb and her sister Dorothy Buxton set up this organisation to help starving children in the aftermath of the First World War. So in our centenary year we’ve launched Stop the War on Children, our biggest ever campaign, demanding that the UK government draws up a new strategy to protect young people in conflict.
“Every person should be strong and self-confident to make a change and protect civilians in conflict.” – Rima, 13
You’ve already helped us fight to improve children’s prospects in the occupied Palestinian territories and around the world.
At 13-year-old Rima’s* West Bank school, meanwhile, we’ve taught pupils how to cope in an emergency, with first aid skills and evacuation drills. Violent clashes in her neighbourhood often lead to tear gas being used, sometimes causing Rima’s school to close. But, says Rima: “I’ve started feeling a little bit safer – and useful. I might even save lives.”
And where Ali was tense and shy, he’s now outgoing and talks confidently about his dreams and concerns. But millions more children are trying to cope in conflict, and Stop the War on Children wants to make your voice heard asking for a government plan that will make a real difference. The UK must commit to upholding international law, encourage allies to do the same, and provide assistance to young people recovering from war’s ill effects.
When he grows up, Ali has set his heart on becoming a doctor. Rima wants to be a journalist, so she can “tell the truth about what’s happening in my country and defend children’s rights.”
Together, through words and actions, we can send a message to the world: the future is worth fighting for.
Sign up to Stop the War on Children at: https://action.savethechildren.org.uk/StandUp
*Names changed to protect identities