[JURIST] The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) [official website] issued a press release [text] Friday declaring 2014 “a devastating year for children” citing the 15 million children affected by violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the State of Palestine, Syria and Ukraine. Beyond the newly erupted conflicts of 2014, UNICEF estimates [materials, PDF] 230 million children globally live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts. The report also acknowledged the health danger posed to children by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa “which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.” Despite the ongoing conflict and instability, humanitarian organizations including UNICEF have been able provide life-saving assistance, treating more than 70,000 children for malnutrition in South Sudan and; have launched a campaign to get 662,000 children back to school in the Central African Republican. Other efforts have delivered 68 million doses of polio vaccine to combat a polio outbreak in Iraq and Syria.
Violence has persisted in the Central African Republic [BBC profile] for the past two years, with a marked escalation after the predominately Muslim-based Seleka rebels ousted the government of Francois Bozize [Global Security backgrounder] in March 2013. In September the head of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court [official website] announced [IJURIST report] the office will open a second investigation into the situation in the Central African Republic with respect to crimes allegedly committed since 2012. South Sudan [JURIST backgrounder], the world’s youngest nation, has been embroiled in a civil war since December 2013 after President Salva Kiir [BBC profile] accused his ex-vice-president, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow him. In October lawmakers in South Sudan passed [JURIST report] a controversial bill that gives security forces the right to arrest suspected criminals without a warrant.