Armed conflicts in Africa lead to under investment in children – expert

African countries are spending more resources to respond to armed conflict at the expense of public investment in children, an expert said on Tuesday.

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Bob Muchabaiwa, the Manager of Child Rights Governance at Global Initiative, said on International Conference on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children in Nairobi that armed conflict in Africa has led to under-investment in the African child as nations diverted resources to contain violence.

African Map
African Map
A peaceful Africa will translate into more resources being directed towards public investment for children’s education, promotion of their health, safety and well being,” Muchabaiwa said.

“Peaceful Africa can never be achieved if we don’t invest in children. Children can’t work their way out of poverty so the government has a special calling to protect them,” he said.

The Nairobi meeting has drawn experts and delegates from 30 countries who have gathered to share experiences and highlight the impact of armed conflict on children and youth, and recommend ways to reduce the psychological, health, educational and social impacts on children.

The four-day meeting is also looking at the strategies being used to prevent armed conflicts and terrorism globally.

The expert said Africa is losing about 18 billion U.S. dollars annually on armed conflict and added that costs associated with violence cost the continent 20.4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

“If the global spending on the resolution of armed conflict is reduced by 15 percent, the world would save about 1 trillion dollars,” he said.

He said South Sudan is spending 17 percent of its GDP to contain violence and added that the country’s refugee response plan stands at 800 million dollars, which is more than the budget of three key ministries in the country.

“After South Sudan’s independence in 2011, the budget for security was reduced drastically and expenditure on child care increased. However when civil strife broke out in 2013, South Sudan’s military budget shot up by 35 percent,” Muchabaiwa noted.

Statistics show that over 180 health facilities have been destroyed or are no longer functioning at a time when about 250,000 children suffer from acute malnutrition in South Sudan.

He said governments should strengthen public finance commitments and put in place child safety mechanisms before conflicts, not after they break out. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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