IPA calls for protection of all children in war zones

The current appalling situation in Gaza is but the latest example of disregard for international law which mandates protection of noncombatants trapped in areas of armed conflict.  International law accords special attention to the protection of children in times of war.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child represents an entire treaty related to care and protection of children under all circumstances; nearly all countries, including Israel and all Arab states, are party to this Convention.  Tragically, children continue to be killed, maimed, and terrorized by conflicts, as shockingly documented in the ongoing warfare in Gaza.  The children of Gaza are trapped in a  brutal nightmare with no means of escape, no safe haven, and no end in sight.  The tragic results of this situation are a shame to all mankind.


Warring parties on both sides of conflicts must be held to international standards concerning protection of children, mothers, families, and other civilians.  Child deaths must not be written off as collateral damage; each child is a unique person, not a replaceable object.  Terrorizing whole populations of children breeds hatred and violence which bode poorly for the future of the world.   Further, protection of children must be viewed not only as an issue of international law, but also as an issue of basic human decency, an imperative which should transcend politics.


An immediate cease fire should be called to the bloody Gaza conflict, and world attention focused on preventing such tragedies in the future.  Neither party to this conflict should target areas sheltering children and their families, nor put children at risk. Safe passage and evacuation of children and their care givers from conflict zones should be provided, and access to basic needs of water, food, warmth, and medical attention facilitated.  Doctors and health personnel must be allowed to work in safety and without fear, and safe passage of medical supplies, ambulances, and medical assistance assured.


The International Pediatric Association represents pediatricians of the national pediatric societies of most countries and all regions of the world.  As pediatricians, we are well aware of the diseases that kill and maim children.  Armed conflict is simply not an acceptable childhood disease.  It is time for the world to stop tolerating this tragic waste of our children’s lives and futures.  In the near future the IPA will be rolling out an initiative to focus on current situations of war which affect children, to monitor adherence to international law and protection of children in any and all armed conflicts, and to mobilize pediatricians and children and their families to work for a culture of peace for the future.


January 9, 2009