Armed conflict around the world has affected more than 630 million women and children and led to ten million deaths of children below five years of age in the last 20 years, according to a new paper by lancet published recently.
The paper said that the 630 million women and children affected in 2017 was more than eight per cent of the total population, which was comparatively large. The paper that is a four paper series said that conflict affected women and children increased since 2000.
The Series looked at the changing nature of war and conflict, health effects on women/ children, strategies for identifying best responses, and interventions.
The Lancet said that armed conflict increased indirect mortality among women and children. They estimate that about 36 million children and 16 million women were displaced in 2017. The calculation was based on International databases of refugees and internally displaced people.
The paper pointed out that the number of non displaced women and children living close to armed conflict (within 50 kilometre) increased from 185 million women and 250 million children in 2000 to 265 million women and 368 million children in 2017. It said that women of reproductive ages who are living near high intensity conflicts have thrice the risk of mortality than women living in peaceful settings.
The Lancet quotes data from of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to say that forcibly displaced people who cross an international border and who cannot return home safely has doubled in ten years. In 2008, there were 10.5 million refugees. However, it increased to 20.4 million by 2018 end.
It notes that two-thirds of the refugees originated from five countries: Syria (6.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.3 million), Myanmar (1.1 million) and Somalia (0.9 million). Apart from this, 5.5 million Palestinian refugees are under the UN Relief and Works Agency,
The Lancet said that armed conflicts also led to internal displacement that missed the UNHCR count. As per data of Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, the internally displaced people due to conflict increased from about 25 million in 2009-10, to 45.7 million in 2019. This includes about 21 million women and girls.
Two thirds of internally displaced people came from six countries: Afghanistan, Syria, Congo, Colombia, Yemen and Somalia. The Lancet paper noted that the number of non-displaced women and children living close to armed conflict increased from 185 million women and 250 million children in 2000 to 265 million women and 368 million children in 2017.
One of the major threats if food security that was an aftermath of the conflicts and violence. This leads to an increased number of children affected by malnutrition. It said that increased levels of chronic malnutrition are common and more pronounced among children living in proximity of conflicts. In 2019, the Famine Early Warning Systems network identified four countries with acute food insecurity. They are Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen.
Non-fatal physical injuries and disabilities
Though physical trauma is a direct consequence of explosives and gunfire, the paper says that women and children who are non-combatants sustain more injuries in a conflict. It said that children younger than 18 years of age accounted for an average of 38 per cent of the landmine casualties. Thirty per cent were women, the Lancet added.
Acute and infectious illnesses
The Lancet paper says that war or conflict affected regions are prone to acute and infectious diseases. This is because of the lack of preventing disease outbreaks and addressing infections in a war torn region. Moreover, people live in crowded regions or in camps, which also increases the chance of infectious diseases. Rape and sexual violence are widely recognised war-related behaviours. However, its effects on transmission of infectious diseases, especially among women, are unknown.