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BBC's Colombo correspondent Susannah Price
"Government forces and Tamil Tigers have won and lost territory and each time it's the civilians who suffer"
 real 28k

BBC's Jacky Rowland reports from Belgrade
"Many children and their parents are living with host families, sleeping several people to one room"
 real 28k

Monday, 8 May, 2000, 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK
13m children uprooted by war
Kosovo, Albanian refugee
Last year's Kosovo war created thousands of child refugees
Thirteen million children throughout the world are currently uprooted from their homes by war, according to the Save the Children agency.

In a new report 'War Brought Us Here', the organisation charts the troublespots where children suffer worst.

It calls on governments, rebel factions and the United Nations to respect the rights of what it calls the "most innocent victims of conflict".


Report findings
13m displaced by war
Angola worst place on earth for children
More than 250,000 children displaced in Sri Lanka
Internal refugees displaced for average six years
The children made refugees by wars in their own countries are the most vulnerable to violence, ill health and hunger, Save the Children says.

They are often beyond international help and at the mercy of those who drove them into exile.

"Providing protection for internally displaced children is a global responsibility," said Save the Children's director general Mike Aaronson.

Child soldiers

The report highlights the countries where - it says - a child is most at risk.

In Sierra Leone thousands of children have been massacred, raped and had limbs severed. Many others are forced to serve as soldiers.

Angola boy soldier
Angola is the worst place on earth for children
"These are some of the most vulnerable children in the world, exposed to violence, mutilation and separation from their families," the report said.

In Colombia there is a desperate record of child murders. And most displaced children have witnessed the killing or attempted killing of one of their family.

But Angola, the report says, is "the worst place in the world to be a child".

Three decades of strife have left a million young people homeless and exposed to bombardment, landmines and chronic disease.

Tomorrow's marginalised adults

Save the Children calls on governments and rebel groups in such countries to stop recruiting child soldiers, to ratify and respect international treaties protecting children, and to help the displaced return home.


Children don't get a second chance at childhood

Save the Children
It urges the UN to provide for their long-term development needs.

The average length of displacement for internal refugees is six years - a large slice of a child's life, the report concludes.

It says that today's displaced children tend to become tomorrow's excluded and marginalised adults.

Sri Lanka

The unrest in Sri Lanka has forced a quarter of a million children from their homes - some five or six times.

Aid agencies in Sri Lanka are becoming increasingly concerned about the effect that the prolonged fighting in the north is having on children caught up in the conflict.

Sierra Leone boy soldier
Many children in Sierra Leone are forced to take up arms
Many children have lost at least one of their parents during the war. They are also the main victims of landmines scattered through the north-east.

BBC Colombo correspondent Susannah Prices says the number of displaced children could rise further if the Tamil Tiger rebels successfully continue their current offensive in the Jaffna peninsula.

Kosovo

The report highlights the case of thousands of Serb and Roma, or Gypsy, children living among three-quarters of a million refugees in Serbia following the Kosovo conflict last year.

BBC Belgrade correspondent Jacky Rowland says getting access to education is a particular difficulty getting for many children.

The authorities in Belgrade eventually let refugee children enrol for classes after an initial reluctance to allow children from Kosovo attend schools in Serbia.

Many Roma children are also suffering from a language problem, since, in Kosovo, they were attending Albanian schools.

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See also:

22 Jan 00 | Europe
Child soldier ban moves closer
18 Oct 99 | Europe
UK slated for young soldiers
25 Jun 99 | Africa
The child victims of war
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