Childhood Interrupted: Canada must champion children in emergencies at June’s G7

By: Results Canada Published: 15/05/2024

At only 11, Ayah lost her leg when an explosion hit her home in war-torn Yemen. In an instant, her childhood was derailed. However, after receiving a prosthetic leg and a lot of intensive physiotherapy and psychosocial support at UNICEF's prosthesis centre in Aden, Ayah found her smile again. But no child should have to go through this.

Ayah's story encapsulates the pain, hope, and resilience of millions of children living in emergency settings around the world facing unimaginable hardship. It’s also a story that shows us what is possible when the world cares and reaches out with support and solidarity.

But many children in conflict do not have the same hopeful trajectory. A devastatingly huge number of children are dying every day because of conflict and other crises. According to the UN, more children have been killed in Gaza since October than from four years of world conflict. This is unacceptable.

“Hundreds of children, women, and innocent civilians are under the rubble, under the fire, under the bombs right now,” says Bisan, a youth in Gaza who has been documenting the war from her perspective for Save the Children. She fled to Rafah seeking safety, but the war followed her and her family there and she is terrified.

There is an urgent need for action to protect children like Bisan. The ongoing conflict in Gaza has left millions of children in dire need of protection. Bombs aren’t the only danger. Malnutrition, disease, and lack of access to basic services and humanitarian aid threaten their survival every day.

The $350 million investment in humanitarian aid announced by the Canadian government in Budget 2024 is a step in the right direction. However, more must be done to ensure that children like Ayah and Bisan receive the support they need. From access to healthcare, nutrition, and education to protection from violence, every child deserves a chance to survive and thrive.

As Canada prepares for the G7 summit in Italy next month, Ayah and Bisan's stories serve as stark reminders of the human cost of inaction. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly, and Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen must heed Bisan's call for help and advocate for concrete measures to address the needs of children in conflict zones.

Canada must lead by example. We must use our power and position at this G7 meeting and the one we are hosting in 2025 to stand up for children in emergencies by unequivocally condemning violence against civilians, reinforcing the need for humanitarian access and protection, and recognizing the unique needs and rights of children living in emergencies around the world.

Ayah and Bisan's stories remind us that behind every statistic is a child with dreams and aspirations. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that those dreams are not extinguished by conflict and crisis.

By standing up for children in emergencies and reaffirming its commitment to humanitarian principles, Canada can make a real difference in the lives of millions. Let’s seize this moment to act decisively and ensure every child has a future.

For more and how you can help, read our call to action here.

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