Conflicts hinder mental development of 87 million children

UNICEF says 87 million children living in conflict zones are under risk of having brain damage

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A child cries as Palestinians salvage items from their home after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers south of Hebron (al-Khalil) on Feb. 2, 2016.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Thursday that nearly 87 million children under the age of seven that live in conflict zones are under the risk of brain damage.

According to the organisation, the traumatic conditions in the conflict zones may obstruct the mental development of children, affecting their emotional wellbeing and ability to learn.

Pia Britto, UNICEF chief of early child development, said that, "In addition to the immediate physical threats that children in crises face, they are also at risk of deep-rooted emotional scars."

"Conflict robs children of their safety, family and friends, play and routine.”

"Yet these are all elements of childhood that give children the best possible chance of developing fully and learning effectively, enabling them to contribute to their economies and societies, and building strong and safe communities when they reach adulthood."

The organisation released a report earlier this year indicating that one in four of the nearly 100 million school-aged children have no access to education in the conflict zones.  

Local resident Israa holds her sister Boutol as they make their way through rubble of damaged buildings in the Douma neighborhood of Damascus March 4, 2015.

A newborn has 253 million functioning brain cells called neurons which develop rapidly during the first seven years after birth until reaching adult capacity with a billion, according to the organisation.

TRTWorld and agencies