Nowadays, millions of children face persistent obstacles in exercising their fundamental rights to healthcare, education, and protection. Floods, earthquakes, and wars, compounded by governmental inaction in implementing crucial policies, have notably exacerbated the already dire circumstances faced by children, intensifying their vulnerability. The devastating events throughout 2023 have led to increased fatalities, widespread displacement of families, and inflicted severe psychological trauma on hundreds of thousands of children.
In Africa, conditions for children are often challenging even without the added impact of natural disasters or wars. Across the continent, millions of children face ongoing struggles with access to basic necessities, education, and protection. Issues like poverty, malnutrition, lack of clean water, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure have been creating significant hurdles for decades. The occurrences of events like the Libyan flooding, Moroccan earthquake, and Sudanese civil war further worsened an already dire situation, magnifying the vulnerability of African children.
The devastating impact of tropical Storm Daniel in Libya particularly highlighted the profound repercussions on children. The flooding resulted in widespread destruction of infrastructure, displacement of families, and a staggering loss of life, with over 4,000 confirmed deaths and thousands still missing (ReliefWeb, 2023).
Children, numbering around 300,000, faced acute vulnerability during and after the disaster, enduring physical dangers and severe psychological trauma (Unicef, 2023).
In Morocco, the earthquake left over 2,600 dead and impacted around 100,000 children (UNICEF, 2023). The tremor destroyed homes, schools, and medical facilities, displacing families and exposing them to harsh conditions. These children are still in need of shelter, clean water, healthcare, and nutrition, along with crucial psychological support.
In a rather unfortunate turn, Sudan‘s descent into civil war has also deepened an already severe crisis, plunging millions into worsened living conditions. Among the hardest hit are children, facing grave rights violations including fatalities, recruitment by armed factions, disrupted education, restricted healthcare access, malnutrition, and water shortages. The conflict has led to the displacement of over 1.4 million individuals, a substantial number being vulnerable children (CNN, 2023).
Despite the pressing nature of the issue, minimal progress has been made in 2023 concerning the shortcomings of some of the European states towards refugee and migrant children. The Ukrainian-Russian conflict continues to take its toll on children, displacing millions of Ukrainian youth, with Poland hosting nearly 40% of these young refugees (Notes from Poland- NFP, 2022).
In 2023, Poland stands as a key refuge for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict, particularly the significant influx of children seeking safety and stability. The response from the Polish government and citizens has been supportive, yet challenges persist in addressing their educational and psychological needs.
Despite commendable efforts, a collaborative and sustained approach involving NGOs, governments, and international entities is imperative to ensure the continued protection and well-being of Ukrainian refugee children in Poland.
Migrant children continue to encounter significant challenges within the Belgian state as they reside in either detention or reception centers. These conditions profoundly impact their fundamental rights to safety, education, and family unity. Belgium’s failure to meet its international obligations, particularly concerning the detention of children, has a detrimental effect on their well-being (Amnesty International, 2022).
A systematic campaign of human rights abuses against the Uyghur population, including children, began a decade ago, in 2013, although its origins may be traced back even further. However, despite the passage of time, the situation has shown no signs of improvement. The Uyghur children, integral members of this oppressed minority, continue to endure harrowing fates due to this ongoing crisis. They face forced separation from their families, and indoctrination, and endure harsh living conditions within detention centers. Their basic rights to education and freedom are still severely compromised, necessitating urgent global attention and intervention now more than ever.
The 2023 situation for the Rohingya children also remains dire, stemming from a history of discrimination dating back to 2017 when violence escalated (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner 2019). Stateless and persecuted in Myanmar, the Rohingya have faced persistent denial of citizenship, which, to this day, still renders them vulnerable to various types of abuses.
Fleeing to Bangladesh, they find themselves in overcrowded refugee camps, enduring unsanitary conditions, limited access to education, healthcare, and facing heightened risks of diseases and exploitation. Despite international outcry and calls for action, the plight of Rohingya children remains precarious, requiring immediate attention and intervention to secure their fundamental rights and safety.
Additionally, children in Pakistan, already vulnerable to issues such as poverty, are facing exacerbated challenges due to historic floods. These floods have intensified their vulnerability to abuse and impacted their mental health negatively. Despite having established child protection laws, their implementation remains insufficient to effectively aid displaced children and facilitate their rehabilitation up to this day.
Humanium’s continuous and passionate advocacy for children’s rights
This year has been incredibly challenging for millions of children worldwide, affected not only by preventable man-made conflicts but also by devastating natural disasters aggravated by governmental inefficiencies and corruption. To address these issues, national and international pressure is crucial for countries to adopt protective laws for the most vulnerable and ensure the fulfillment of children’s rights.
At Humanium, our focus remains on raising awareness and urging the international community to take action. Our relentless advocacy seeks to create a world where children are surrounded by education and progress rather than poverty and fear. In the face of adversity, we persist in implementing diverse projects worldwide to foster growth and cultivate peaceful communities.
Our commitment extends to ensuring equal rights for every child, regardless of age, gender, race, or nationality. If you share our vision and wish to support our mission, please consider sponsoring a child, making a donation, or volunteering in the upcoming year. Together, we can strive for a world where every child’s right is respected and protected.
Wishing you and your loved ones a New Year filled with safety, happiness, and the achievement of your dreams, from all of us at Humanium!
Written by Lidija Misic
Amnesty International (2022), La Belgique condamnée pour avoir déténu des enfants migrants. Retrieved from Amnesty International at https://www.amnesty.be/infos/actualites/article/belgique-condamnee-detenu-enfants-migrants, accessed on November 27, 2023.
CNN (2023), Nearly 1.4 million people displaced in Sudan since civil war erupted, UN report says. Retrieved from CNN at https://edition.cnn.com/2023/05/28/africa/sudan-displaced-people-gender-violence-intl-hnk/index.html, accessed on November 27, 2023.
Notes from Poland (NFP) (2022), 200,000 Ukrainian refugee children face a steep learning curve at Polish schools. Retrieved from Notes From Poland at https://notesfrompoland.com/2022/05/18/200000-ukrainian-refugee-children-face-a-steep-learning-curve-at-polish-schools/, accessed on November 27, 2023.
ReliefWeb (2023), Libya Flood Response Situation Report (11 October 2023). Retrieved from ReliefWeb at https://reliefweb.int/report/libya/libya-flood-response-situation-report-11-october-2023, accessed on November 27, 2023.
UNICEF (2023), At least 100,000 children affected by Morocco earthquake. Retrieved from UNICEF at https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/least-100000-children-affected-morocco-earthquake, accessed on November 27, 2023.
Unicef (2023), Nearly 300,000 children affected in Libya after Storm Daniel devastates entire communities. Retrieved from Unicef at https://www.unicef.org/mena/press-releases/nearly-300000-children-affected-libya-after-storm-daniel-devastates-entire, accessed on November 27, 2023.
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (2019). Press release – Myanmar’s Rohingya Persecuted, Living under Threat of Genocide, UN Experts Say. Retrieved from United Nations Office of the High Commissionner at https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2019/09/myanmars-rohingya-persecuted-living-under-threat-genocide-un-experts-say?LangID=E&NewsID=24991, accessed on November 27, 2023.