The Millennium Development Goals
In 2000, world leaders developed the Millennium Development Goals – eight targets set to eradicate global poverty and human suffering by 2015. With only a few years to go, these targets are miles off track.
Children affected by war are amongst the most neglected group of people in the world, and without focussing on them, we have no hope of achieving the MDGs. For example, access to education for all children has been promised by 2015, but 69 million children are still out of school, and over half of them live in conflict affected countries.
Conflict reinforces cycles of extreme poverty and hunger. War and its consequences destroy education infrastructure and cripple markets, which leads to massive unemployment.
Many of the effects of war, such as displacement and insecurity, have a devastating impact on food security, the effects of which are always worse for the most marginalised groups - including children.
Children in conflict affected countries face huge obstacles to education. Many are unable to afford school fees, uniform and supplies.
Schools are often destroyed by war and remaining schools are in dire conditions, with a severe lack of resources and teachers. Some children are abducted and forced to fight in rebel and military forces, missing out on years of education.
Women and girls in conflict affected countries face many adverse social attitudes providing an obstacle to their development and driving them further into poverty.
Girls face a high risk of sexual abuse at home, at school and every part of their life. Forced early marriage and pregnancy often destroys their chance of an education removing all their options for their future.
Only 2 of 35 fragile states are on track to meet MDG 4 on child mortality. Unfortunately, children make up a worrying proportion of civilian casualties during conflict and modern warfare is having more of an effect on civilians than ever before.
Displacement, appalling living conditions and disease - all as a consequence of war - often result in more deaths than the fighting itself. It is estimated that over 2.5 million children have died as a consequence of the conflict in DRC.
Pregnant women in conflict affected countries are at particular risk due to poor healthcare infrastructure, poor sanitation and lack of education in health and hygiene. Girls are vulnerable to sexual abuse and often become pregnant at young ages, leading to difficulties during pregnancy and delivery.
Also, in conflict affected countries it is less likely that a birth would be attended by a skilled health worker, which has a dire effect.
Children in conflict-affected countries are particularly susceptible to diseases, especially children under 5, due to poor sanitation and lack of hygiene education.
Governments are failing to allocate sufficient budget to healthcare and facilities are often damaged during war.
Many children in conflict-affected countries are forced to live in unsanitary conditions, leading to poor health and stopping them from attending school.
Developing countries are the hardest hit by the effects of climate change - and conflict further affects the ability of countries to handle these effects.
Children and young people must be encouraged and empowered to participate in global partnership efforts, so that they can contribute their own innovation, knowledge and experience to their own development.