Today, the world encompasses 35 conflict zones where children are growing up under the shadow of war. In recent years, the nature of armed conflict has changed, putting children more at risk than ever before. For the girl child, the threat is even greater. Girls are particularly vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, prostitution, and forced labor.
Worldwide, children are increasingly being used as instruments of war. The Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, published by the U.S. Department of State, found a 30% increase in the number of countries recruiting and using child soldiers.
But there are other risks for children living in conflict zones. Changes in technology and shifts in war tactics have resulted in the use of aerial attacks, putting children directly in the line of fire. Additionally, there has been a recent increase in the use of child suicide bombers and child victim bombers. Many terrorist groups are targeting children specifically through attacks on schools and education, as demonstrated by Boko Haram, a terrorist group that abducted 276 girls in Nigeria in April 2014.
Because of these challenges and the bleak outlook for children in conflict zones, we must act today to restore the voices of children silenced by war. These young victims of war desperately need our help if they are to know a brighter future.