Give children the right to life!

Terrible: nearly 250 million children around the world are currently living in countries affected by war! This is the highest number since World War Two. UNICEF calls it an era of humanitarian crises.

Things are particularly bad right now: no matter where one looks there are wars, conflicts, and fighting. In the Near East, Africa, Asia, and in Europe—practically everywhere people are suffering from violent conflicts. And the children, the most vulnerable, suffer the most. The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) speaks of an era of humanitarian crises. According to a recently published report on the state of the world’s children, there has not been such a staggering amount of violence against minors since World War Two.

75 million children without kindergarten and school

Girls and boys are often—far too often—robbed of their entire childhood. Some 75 million children and adolescents cannot go to kindergarten or to school to receive a regular education because of ongoing conflicts. The report mentions abduction, sexual abuse, torture, and death. This also done to demoralize adults, UNICEF says.

“We have received many reports of snipers who deliberately target children, and attack schools, kindergartens, or playgrounds.” Ethical boundaries have been overstepped. The numbers are staggering and shocking. UNICEF lists thousands of attacks on schools. Also the dropping of bombs on densely populated areas is killing and maiming the most vulnerable—our children.

250 million children live in war-torn regions

Gerd Müller, the German Development Minister, said at the presentation of the UNICEF report in Berlin in Germany: “250 million children around the world face war every day.” We must not shut our ears to their calls for help. He mentioned some staggering numbers. More than 150,000 babies were born to mothers fleeing war-torn Syria over the past five years. He is worried, he says, that the pictures of the atrocities that we see every day will have a numbing effect.

The violence of war and having to flee from their homes will break the children in the long-run. Psychologists warn that their innate basic trust will be shattered, although not all children from war-torn countries are traumatized in a clinical sense. According to estimates by UNICEF, however, the trauma suffered by many girls and boys may lead to long-term psychological problems. Are we talking about a lost generation?

Let us love the children

Love for children begins at home. Mothers and fathers who deeply love their children will give them the best: an education; they will teach them respect for others and for the environment, and they will teach them to love God, and much more. These are values that children need more than ever. As individuals we may not be able to help every child in war-torn countries, but we can love those children who live with us and next to us. We can honour and respect them, and not because we are responsible and have to provide for them or because they are the coming generation, but because they are our fellow human beings.

The doctrine of the New Apostolic Church (Catechism 12.4.1) says: “Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127: 3) and should be brought up and cared for by the parents to the best of their ability. Parents give all their love to the child. … In awareness of the responsibilities resulting from this, parents are charged with the task of guiding their children in self-responsible conduct in accordance with the basic values of the gospel. This includes instructing them to love God and their neighbour.”

Photo: Bassam Khabieh / Reuters

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Peter Johanning
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