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Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times (Update: UNICEF puts civilian deaths at above 90% since the 1990's)

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  • Emily
    Re: Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times

    Patterns in conflict:
    Civilians are now the target

    Civilian fatalities in wartime have climbed from 5 per cent at the turn of the century ... to more than 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s.
    New weapons and patterns of conflict that include deliberate attacks against civilians are increasingly turning children into primary targets of war.
    "Armed conflict kills and maims more children than soldiers," notes a new United Nations report by Gra?a Machel, the UN Secretary-General's Expert on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.
    "It is a basic need of children to be protected when conflicts threaten, and such protection requires the fulfillment of their rights through the implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law," the report states.
    Modern warfare is often less a matter of confrontation between professional armies than one of grinding struggles between military and civilians in the same country, or between hostile groups of armed civilians. More and more wars are essentially low-intensity internal conflicts, and they are lasting longer. The days of set-piece battles between professional soldiers facing off in a field far from town are long gone. Today, wars are fought from apartment windows and in the lanes of villages and suburbs, where distinctions between combatant and non-combatant quickly melt away.
    Civilian fatalities in wartime climbed from 5 per cent at the turn of the century, to 15 per cent during World War I, to 65 per cent by the end of World War II, to more than 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s.
    Children are not spared. It is estimated that 500,000 under-five-year-olds died as a result of armed conflicts in 1992 alone. In Chechnya, between February and May 1995, children made up an appalling 40 per cent of all civilian casualties; Red Cross workers found that children's bodies bore marks of having been systematically executed with a bullet through the temple. In Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, almost one child in four has been wounded.
    "Any and all tactics are employed, from systematic rape, to scorched earth tactics that destroy crops and poison wells, to ethnic cleansing and genocide," the report says.
    In war, children usually have little choice but to share the same horrors as their parents. As wars take on an ethnic, tribal or fratricidal cast, civilians and their children may find themselves the objects of genocidal violence. As one political commentator cynically expressed it in a 1994 radio broadcast before violence erupted in Rwanda, "To kill the big rats, you have to kill the little rats."
    "Not only are large numbers of children killed and injured, but countless others grow up deprived of their material and emotional needs, including the structures that give meaning to social and cultural life," the report says. "The entire fabric of their societies their homes, schools, health systems and religious institutions are torn to pieces."
    Even humanitarian activities that were once safe from attack are now treated as legitimate military objectives'. Relief convoys, health clinics and feeding centres have all become targets. And when food supplies run short or water is contaminated during wartime, it is usually children who suffer most. In Somalia, half or more of all children under age five who were alive on 1 January 1992 were dead by the end of the year. In Mozambique, wartime damage to schools has left two thirds of 2 million primary school-age children with no access to education.
    Sexual abuse is also appearing more often as a systematic policy of war, deployed to terrorize civilian communities. In some raids during the carnage in Rwanda in 1994, virtually every adolescent girl who survived militia attack was later raped. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the rape of teenage girls was systematized into a deliberate policy. It has been estimated that more than 20,000 women have been raped since the Balkan war began in 1992.
    The technology of war has also changed in ever more deadly ways. Inexpensive new lightweight weapons have made it tragically easy to use children as the cannon-fodder of modern warfare. In Uganda, an AK-47 which is simple enough for a child of 10 to strip and reassemble can be bought for the same price as a chicken, and in Mozambique for a bag of maize. Thanks to such innovations, by the late 1980s adults had put guns in the hands of as many as 200,000 children under the age of 16 in 25 countries. As soldiers, children are often considered the most expendable: during the Iran-Iraq war, child soldiers were sent out ahead in waves over minefields.
    What are the causes underlying modern armed conflict with its emphasis on victimizing children and other civilians? "The sense of dislocation and chaos that characterizes contemporary armed conflicts can be attributed to many different factors," says the report.
    "Some observers point to cataclysmic political upheavals and struggles for control over resources in the face of widespread poverty and economic disarray. Others see the callousness of modern warfare as a natural outcome of the social revolutions that have torn traditional societies apart. The latter analysts point as proof to many African societies that have always had strong martial cultures. While fierce in battle, the rules and customs of those societies, only a few generations ago, made it taboo to attack women and children," the report continues.
    Even as wars become deadlier for innocent civilians, it is possible to mitigate their effects on children. In El Salvador, for example, beginning in 1985, government and rebel forces agreed to three days of tranquillity', during which 250,000 small children were immunized against polio, measles, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. This vaccine truce was repeated annually for six years until the end of the civil war. Similarly, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics inspired UNICEF-brokered truces between warring factions in Afghanistan (3 million children were vaccinated) and in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq (66,000 vaccinated) a gold medal success for all sides.
    Changing patterns of conflict: Key statistics
    • Increasingly, wars are fought in precisely those countries that can least afford them. Of more than 150 major conflicts since the Second World War, 130 have been fought in the developing world. The per capita gross national product (GNP) of war-torn countries in 1994 included: Afghanistan (US$280), Angola ($700), Cambodia ($200), Georgia ($580), Liberia ($450), Mozambique ($80), Somalia ($120), Sri Lanka ($640), the Sudan ($480).
    • Since the 1950s, more wars have started than have stopped. By the end of 1995, wars had been running in Afghanistan for 17 years, Angola, 30; Liberia, 6; Somalia, 7; Sri Lanka, 11; Sudan, 12.
    • The global case-load of refugees and displaced persons is growing at alarming speed. The number of refugees from armed conflicts worldwide increased from 2.4 million in 1974 to more than 27.4 million today, the report notes, with another 30 million people displaced within their own countries. Children and women make up an estimated 80 per cent of displaced populations.
    Last edited by Emily; March 16, 2012, 06:15 PM. Reason: Fixed formatting

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  • Emily
    Re: Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times
    5-Year-Old Libyan Amputee Arrives In The U.S. For Treatment
    By Hussein Saddique, CNN

    POSTED: 12:53 pm EDT July 29, 2011
    UPDATED: 12:53 pm EDT July 29, 2011

    New York (CNN) -- Five year-old Malaak Al-Shami arrived in the U.S. on Thursday evening to get fitted with a prosthetic leg after suffering injuries in Libya's raging civil war.
    Malaak, who arrived in a wheelchair, initially appeared to be tired, but she quickly perked up when the other children housed in the facility came out to greet her.

    She got off her wheelchair and started exploring a toy room and play space with the other children. She quickly befriended three Iraqi boys who, like her, speak Arabic.

    They, too, were brought to the U.S. by the nonprofit. They suffered their injuries in Iraq's continuing violence, according to Mantonti.

    Malaak's rebel-controlled neighborhood in the western Libyan city of Misrata was attacked by pro-government forces on May 13. A Grad rocket, which looks like an overgrown bullet about 9 feet long and 15 inches around, slammed into her bedroom wall and exploded, causing a gaping hole. Her 3-year-old brother and 1-year-old sister died in the attack.

    Malaak's right leg was severed below the knee in the attack....

    Read more:

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  • Emily
    Re: Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times

    Gaddafi 'loyalists' at rally in Tripoli look tense and depressed.

    Photographs: Copyright. Mahdi Darius Nazemoroaya, Global Research 2011

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  • Emily
    Re: Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times
    Length of Parental Military Deployment Associated With Children's Mental Health Diagnoses, Study Finds

    ScienceDaily (July 4, 2011) ? Children with a parent who was deployed in the U.S. military efforts Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) for longer periods were more likely than children whose parents did not deploy to receive a diagnosis of a mental health problem, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals....

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  • sharon sanders
    Re: Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times

    Also please see:

    Study - The post-war public health effects of civil conflict

    <iframe width="425" height="349" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Peace for Public Health

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  • Civilians, including children, account for 80% of war deaths in 'modern' times (Update: UNICEF puts civilian deaths at above 90% since the 1990's)

    Civilian casualties have dramatically increased due to the changing nature of warfare.

    World War I: civilians accounted for less than 20% of all deaths.
    World War II: they made up 48% of all deaths.
    Civilians account for 80% of the war dead in more recent conflicts.

    Estimates are that more than 2 million children perished as a result of war in the last 10 years of the 20th century, with over 6 million injured or permanently disabled.

    The current US military conflicts, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in Iraq, have also resulted in a significant incidence of pediatric trauma.

    War does NOT protect civilians; it kills them.


    Textbook published by The Borden Institute, an agency of the US Army Medical Department Center & School.
    Pediatric Surgery and Medicine for Hostile Environments

    The test of the morality of a society
    is what it does for its children.
    - Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906?1945)
    Last edited by Emily; March 16, 2012, 06:17 PM. Reason: Updated title