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"Adding global value – for the lives of children"
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"Adding global value – for the lives of children"

Ryan Bachoo profile picThe past year was full of grim news, especially concerning the welfare of children, writes Ryan Bachoo, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad and Tobago, who challenges the Commonwealth to assist children in war zones.

From a global standpoint, it’s been a terrible year.

As I write, there is a siege in Sydney where a 49-year old Islamic man is holding an unconfirmed number of people hostage in a cafe. From the start of the year to its end, the world has had more than its fair share of bad news.

Places like Canada and Australia that seemed at one time immune to terrorism have faced challenging periods. Pro-democracy in Hong Kong has been silenced and conflicts in the Middle East have sorely deepened and no foreseeable solution is in sight.

In reality, the year has been like any other year – filled with political, economic and warring conflicts, celebrity deaths, and tragedies.

However, 2014 has produced a staggering new problem for the world – children. A release from UNICEF’s press centre on December 8th stated that 15 million children are caught up in major conflicts which forced the body to declare 2014 “a devastating year for children”. The release went on to state some frightening situations millions of children around the world are facing. Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director said in the release, “Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality.”

The release highlighted:

  • In the Central African Republic, 2.3 million children are affected by the conflict, up to 10,000 children are believed to have been recruited by armed groups over the last year.
  • In Gaza, 54,000 children were left homeless as a result of the 50-day conflict during the summer that also saw 538 children killed, and more than 3,370 injured.
  • In Syria, more than 7.3 million children are affected by the conflict including 1.7 million child refugees.
  • In South Sudan, an estimated 235,000 children under five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Almost 750,000 children have been displaced and more than 320,000 are living as refugees.

These numbers are the worst they have been for a long time. Children have always faced huge challenges in this world, especially over the last decade since the Arab conflict, but now the situation has become visibly worse.

In fact, it has reached a point where UNICEF and similar agencies can no longer cope with the numbers. Aid agencies are simply now stretched. The growing numbers signal two things; the first is that conflicts are spreading farther and faster daily, and the second is that governments are quickly losing control of the wars they are fighting. This means that wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are spreading throughout those countries so rapidly that more and more helpless men, women and children are being affected daily.

It is no longer enough for organisations like UNICEF to battle to save our children. Millions of dollars in aid is also irrelevant. What children need at this very moment in time is safety. They need to be protected from radical groups, wars and conflicts. I write about Barack Obama and the United States frequently in my column, but this is one time I will not. America is knowingly spending millions of dollars in aid when Congress knows that children require far more in war-torn areas.

Instead, I will end off the year with a suggestion to the Commonwealth – whose 53 member states congregate in Malta in November for its biennial 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Commonwealth must take it upon itself – without the United States, France and Germany – to begin working out political solutions to assist children in war torn parts. The Commonwealth could start the action by inviting Benjamin Netanyahu to Malta for a special sit-down talk, or through some other dialogue. Israel is entitled and should continue to be entitled to self-defence, but the results of such attacks should not result in so many children being displaced and dead. There must be more organization to war in the 21st century.

Similarly, more ideas are needed to protect African children who continue to be kidnapped and placed into radical war groups. The theme for 2015 is “adding global value” – a key message, especially after a year which global value has deteriorated so much.

photo credit: Zoriah via photopin cc
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About me:
“Hi, my name is Ryan Bachoo. I’m a Journalist and Public Relations Practitioner from Princes Town in the twin island of Trinidad and Tobago. I’ve moved into the field of Mass Communication now. I currently work for the West Indies Cricket Board, protecting the online image of West Indies Cricket.
I’ve been a Broadcast Journalist at Cable News Channel 3 for three years. For the Commonwealth Youth Secretariat, I write on topics of politics, war and economics.”
Ryan Bachoo
Journalist & Public Relations Practitioner
The People’s Writer
I speak for those who have no voice!
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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