The World Day of War Orphans is marked on 6 January to create awareness about the plight of children who have lost their parents due to conflict. In any conflict, children are one of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups present.
World Day of War Orphans was started by the French organisation SOS Enfants en Detresses, which aimed to help children affected by conflict. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an orphan is defined as a "child under 18 years of age who has lost one or both parents to any cause of death".
According to the UNICEF, approximately 140 million orphaned children existed in the year 2015. For the period between 1990-2001, the number of orphaned children increased. However, 2001 onwards, the count has been declining at a rate of 0.7 percent, as per news reports.
In any conflict, children endure malnutrition, lack of access of education, displacement and physical and mental trauma. According to a recent press release by the UNICEF, in the year 2020, 26,425 violations against children’s rights due to conflict were recorded.
As conflict continues in countries such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Syria and so on, children have faced increasing levels of insecurity, inter-communal violence and denial of access to health and sanitation facilities.
On World Day of War Orphans, several awareness programmes are organised to create awareness about the trauma endured by orphaned children. The coronavirus pandemic has further led to issues like food insecurity and access to basic health and sanitation facilities for many children worldwide.
World Day of War Orphans is marked as a reminder of the issues faced by such children and to remind the world of its responsibility to ensure that such kids also get equal access to health and educational opportunities.
The pandemic has also exacerbated the strain on many developing countries which are already grappling with climate change, conflicts and natural disasters such as famine. These countries now face increased pressure to take care of orphaned children as well to create conditions conducive to their well-rounded development.