Like millions of others, I was delighted to follow the Thai cave rescue of the boys’ football team and coach. Obviously, people do care, but what about the 21 children who die every minute of every day according to Unicef stats? #ChildrenDeserveBetter. The child mortality stats worldwide are appaling.
Appalling Unicef Child Mortality Statistics
Unicef’s report on child mortality makes for grim reading. 29’000 children under five die each day, that’s 21 per minute. What’s worse, these children die from predominantly preventable causes like pneumonia, malaria, lack of oxygen during birth, and other treatable causes. 6 out of the 11 million children who die each year could be saved using simple, easily available means like antibiotics, vaccines, nutritional supplements, bed nets treated with insecticides, and improved breastfeeding and family healthcare facilities.
Two-thirds of these child deaths occur in just 10 countries. Sub-Saharan children are most at risk, while neonatal deaths are most common in South Asia. Unicef, in collaboration with other NGOs and the World Health Organisation, has targeted the following areas to lower the child mortality rates:
- Health and Nutrition Interventions: Increase in vaccination rates, the supply of micronutrient supplements, providing insecticide-treated bed nets for the prevention of malaria, promoting breastfeeding
- Health Access and Education: 80 per cent of children die at home, having never been seen by a medical professional. The provision of basic medical care, supplies, and education could reduce child mortality by as much as 40 per cent.
- Clean Water and Sanitation: Water-borne diseases like cholera and Guinea worm remain a major killer. Unicef is working with charities and governments across the globe to provide clean water supplies and adequate sanitation.
- Crisis Responses: Global children’s charities like Save the Children provide emergency aid in war zones and natural disaster areas to cut child mortality rates.
Deaths Among Migrant Children
The UN Migration Agency estimates the number of child deaths since 2014 to be 1’200, although many believe that the real number to be considerably higher, seeing as 12.5 per cent of migrants are aged below 18. Fleeing from war zones like Syria or Yemen, children face considerable risks on their way.
The Most Dangerous Countries for Children
An article published in the New York Times in December 2017 reveals the most dangerous countries for children:
- Afghanistan: According to Unicef, the use of “indiscriminate improvised explosive devices” is seen as the major cause of child deaths in war-torn Afghanistan. Children are caught in the crossfire. During the first month of 2017, an estimated 700 children were killed.
- Uganda: Troops fighting against the Lord’s Resistance Army have been accused of subjecting young girls to sexual exploitation and rape.
- Central African Republic: Unicef has reported that 150’000 people were forced to flee their homes, with children becoming victims of abduction or rape. Some children are also forcefully recruited by armed groups.
- Congo: An estimated 850’000 children have been forced from their homes, Unicef reports.
- Nigeria and Cameron: 135 children were used as suicide bombers by Boko Haram.
- Iraq: According to the New York Times, children are being used as human shields by ISIS.
- Syria: Unicef has reported that 2017 was the deadliest year for children in Syria. Over 900 lost their lives, while survivors witness horrendous violence and suffer unspeakable trauma.
- Rohingya Kids: 60 per cent of Rohingya refugees are believed to be children, many of them unaccompanied. Witnesses describe how babies were snatched from mothers and many children forced to flee on their own to escape violence.
- South Sudan: According to Unicef, 19’000 children were recruited as child soldiers, with 2’300 losing their lives.
- Somalia: Children are forced to join armed groups.
- Yemen: Unicef figures reveal that an estimated 5’000 children were killed or injured, while 11 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Desperate families often choose to sell children into marriage or to serve as child soldiers.
- Ukraine: After four years of intense conflict, 220’000 children are at risk from explosives and mines.
- Middle East: According to Aljazeera, over 350 children are in Israeli prisons, where many believe they suffer maltreatment. This year, Israeli forces have already arrested 353 while placing more than 100 under house arrest.
Children At Risk All Across the Globe
Apart from the stark realities of child mortality, children face risks in all societies across the globe. Child abuse, violence against children, child marriage, family separation, child abduction, and child poverty are only some of the dangers kids are exposed to. Every child has the right to grow up in safety and it is our responsibility to uphold the rights of children around the world.