Today is the International Day of Peace, established by the United Nations to help strengthen the ideals of peace around the world. But did you know that UNICEF actually considers children “zones of peace”? This idea of putting children above the political fray led to UNICEF’s groundbreaking work negotiating ceasefires for humanitarian work. The first of these took place in El Salvador in 1985, when then-UNICEF Executive Director James Grant negotiated three “days of tranquility.”
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Sixteen months after the start of the unrest, assaults against civilians, human rights violations, mass arrests, torture, and execution-style killings of families, including children, continue to be a reality in Syria. To protect children from the ongoing violence and to help them regain a sense of normalcy, UNICEF and its partners are providing humanitarian assistance to families caught in Syria, as well as to those who have fled Syria to the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Getting displaced children back to school is a central focus of UNICEF’s efforts. School is not only important for educational purposes but also for children to make friends and develop routines to help them cope with trauma and loss. Despite repeated calls for an end to the violence in Syria, children continue to suffer as a result of the crisis. As more and more families flee the country, UNICEF urgently requires additional funding to be able to reach more Syrian children in need in the region.
Nearly eleven months of violence in Syria have led to the deaths and injuries of hundreds of children. “This must stop. Even one child killed in the violence is one child too many,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “We urge the Syrian authorities to allow help to all those who need it desperately.”
UNICEF does not have access to the affected areas of Homs and cannot confirm the impact of the attacks there, but there are credible reports, including from international media inside Homs, that children are caught in the violence.
After gaining independence in 1975, Angola spent the next 27 years in civil war. The country has only been at peace since 2002. We visited the country last month to see how UNICEF is contributing to the country’s 8 years of transition from war to development.
If you follow the news, you likely know about the brutal attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan just over a month ago. On October 28, Taliban militants staged an early morning raid