Children of the World

Another year has passed. We have arrived at 2017. A new dawn, or same old, same old?

We always complain that the year has passed too fast. Really, we are expressing fear of our approaching old age. Ask the children of the world if the year has passed too fast.

Those children who are dodging bullets, bombs, desperately clinging to dear life, while their peers are cheerfully attending school.

Those children who do not even know what school is.

Those children who have had to shoulder the burden of caring for their families, because their dads or mums have been killed or maimed due to meaningless wars.

Those children who are dying in droves in Africa due to hunger or disease.

I believe a picture tells a thousand words. I believe the power of photographs over words. I am full of admiration for news photographers. Especially for those who endanger their lives to bring the horrors of wars to us.

The photo of 2015 was the lifeless, washed up body of little Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi on Turkish shores.

Another Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh provided the most iconic picture of 2016. Five year old Omran is pictures on a red chair at the back of an ambulance. He had got hurt in Aleppo, in that most brutal war of the year. His little body is covered by dust, bruises and dried blood. He is staring into the camera, obviously in shock.


Omran was lucky. He was treated and delivered to his family. His 10 year old brother Ali was not so lucky. He died as a result of his injuries due to the relentless bombing.

How can we forget the blood chilling twitter messages sent by 7 year old Aleppo girl, Bana Alabed? For me, those messages were one of the highlights of the year.

“Parties [signatories to the Convention] shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child”.

The above is an extract from the UN Convention on ‘the Rights of a Child’. How laughable, how hypocritical, how empty these words are.

Those countries guilty of infringing the convention are all signatories to the convention. Does the UN take any action against them? No. Especially if they are the West’s puppet regimes, or powerful or ‘important’ countries like China, USA, UK, France, Turkey, etc…

UNICEF publishes The State of the World Children report at the end of each year. The foreword to the 2016 report contains these sentences:

“The lives and futures of millions of children are in jeopardy. We have a choice: invest in the most excluded children now, or risk a more divided and unfair world.”

I strongly recommend that you read this eye-opening UNICEF 2016 report. Among other things, it presents us with some frightening statistiscs and predictions, that from 2016 to 2030:

  • 167 million children will live in extreme poverty.
  • 69 million children under 5 will die.
  • 60 million children of primary school age will be out of school.

World leaders who are guilty of causing this inhumane suffering against the world’s children are currently busy issuing messages of peace and good will.

Front cover of UNICEF’s 2016 report ‘The State of the World Children’


Our leaders think they fulfil their obligations to children by sitting them on their seats of power for a few minutes on 23rd April, Children’s Day. They and their diplomats are giving messages of oneness and togetherness, and yet…

We have come to the end of yet another year. A year of deaths, suffering and grief.

I no longer wish ‘peace for the World’ in my New Year messages to my friends, as I think this is a utopian dream. Instead, I wish the New Year will be one during which everyone will increase their awareness and sensitivity to the unjust happenings on our planet. It will be ‘Joe public’ and not politicians who stop this hypocrisy. Only then peace will arrive.

Ertanc Hidayettin headshot

Main photo (UNICEF/UN013175/Al-Issa): in Aleppo, Syria, four-year-old Esraa and her brother Waleed, three, sit on the ground near a shelter for internally displaced persons.


About Ertanch Hidayettin

T-VINE columnist Ertanch Hidayettin is a Cypriot Turk of African heritage who came to the UK in 1970. A qualified teacher he chose to pursue a career in local government, working for local authorities in a variety of posts including as an Equality Officer for Islington Council, before retiring in 2007. Since then he has worked with the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE). He is a community activist and a commentator in Turkish and Cypriot media.