Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wasted Lives

From east to west, from north to south, people around the world are suffering, increasingly unsafe, and preyed upon in ever larger numbers. For years now, their deaths from disease, deprivation, starvation, and conflicts of every sort have been on the rise. They are increasingly fodder for war.

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die daily worldwide due to starvation. In the first three-quarters of 2018, for instance, 5,000 children were reportedly killed or maimed in war-torn Afghanistan. Save the Children estimates that up to 85,000 children under the age of five may have died of starvation in a Yemen being torn apart by civil war and, according to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, at least 1,248 children have been killed and as many wounded in Saudi air strikes there since 2015. By the end of 2017, at least 14,000 children had been reported killed in the war in Syria. In Africa, violence and hunger threaten children in increasing numbers. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, millions are reportedly “at risk of severe acute malnutrition.” The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, reports that the number of displaced people, both those who have fled across national boundaries as refugees and those still in their own countries, reached a staggering 68.5 million by the end of 2017. According to UNICEF, nearly half of that displaced population are children, an estimated 30 million of them. Many of those children are starving, without access to medical care or basic human needs like toilets and clean water, not to speak of schools or a future. Inside and outside the camps where so many of them are now living, youngsters are subject to rape, violence, and abuse.

Among U.S. citizens, there is trouble as well. In an ever more unequal society, 21% of children in this country now live below the official poverty line, a rate that is the highest among the world’s richest countries. In 2009, a Department of Justice report found that more than 60% of American children witnessed or were the targets of violence “directly or indirectly.”

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