Save the Children’s founder, Eglantyne Jebb, once said: “All wars, whether just or unjust, disastrous or victorious, are waged against the child.”
That was 100 years ago, when the memory of the First World War was still raw and famine stalked Europe. But for millions of children across the world, her words are as true today as they were a century ago.
There are more children living in conflict zones than at any point for decades – at least one in six children globally. Some 4.5 million of them are on the brink of starvation. In Yemen alone, Save the Children estimates extreme hunger may have killed 85,000 children under the age of five since 2015.
Crimes against children in conflict are also on the rise. The UN reported more than 25,000 ‘grave violations’ of children’s rights in 2017, up from 16,000 a decade ago. These include the most horrific abuses against children imaginable: killing, maiming, rape and abduction. This is why, in its centenary year, Save the Children is sponsoring an award for reporting on children in conflict.
Vulnerable children need a voice and we’ve seen how powerful words and images can transform a crisis into a cause. It was the media outcry that prevented an assault on Yemen’s key port for supplies of food, fuel and medicine last year. Countless lives were saved. And it was media coverage that kickstarted the peace talks that followed. There’s now hope that Yemen’s children will get a chance to rebuild their futures.
But what of the hundreds of thousands of malnourished children who died in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year, largely ignored by the world? Or the continuing attacks on schools and hospitals in Syria? Or the thousands of children recruited as soldiers in South Sudan?
Day in, day out, we’re fighting for these children to survive, get protection when they’re in danger and have the chance to learn. Often it feels as if we’re doing it in a vacuum. These are children like our children. But as distant horrors compete for public attention against the immediate and the local, they are neglected all too often.
Journalism can make all the difference. It raises the stakes for governments that defy international law and increase public support for the work of charities like ours, enabling us to reach more children on the front lines with lifesaving aid. A single brave piece of reporting, in the right place at the right time, can keep our operations running even after the news agenda moves on.
With the One World Media Children in Conflict Reporting Award we want to honour those journalists who have stood up for children when few others did. Their work will have turned a spotlight on injustice and suffering. It will have generated empathy, understanding and action.
Every child deserves the chance to make their mark on the world, and to build a better future. But with the rules of war in tatters, they need all the help they can get.
By Sean Ryan, Head of Communications and Ruairidh Villar, Senior Media Manager at Save the Children
This year we are proud to be introducing our new award category, Children in Conflict Reporting Award – sponsored by Save the Children. This category will be awarded to a piece of media, including broadcast, online, print or film, that accurately portrays issues related to children in conflict zones by telling compelling stories that generate empathy and understanding.
The One World Media Awards 2019 are now accepting entries. Find out more about the Awards, including eligibility and criteria.