Hesperian Health Guides

War As a Cause of Child Disability

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Nicaraguan child disabled by a ‘Contra’ bomb. The Contras were rebel troops supported by the US government to overthrow the government of Nicaragua (Photo by Marc Krizack, Links.)

Armed violence is increasing and has become more deadly. In today’s wars, most of the people killed or injured are women and children—not soldiers. And the weapons used in wars, like landmines, drones, cluster bombs, and chemical agents, have become even more dangerous and threatening to everyone.

In the past decade, millions of children have died in wars, and at least 6 million have been injured or disabled. Children, especially boys, are sometimes forced to fight as soldiers, and many are either killed or injured and disabled. Girls are forced to be “sex-slaves” for soldiers and are repeatedly raped. Not only are these children disabled physically, but their mental health is also badly affected.

The increased poverty and ‘hard times’ caused by war also lead to many disabilities. There are more than 65 million refugees around the world, many living under dangerous and unhealthy conditions. 46 million children in poor countries are underweight, mainly from lack of food. Millions are homeless. Yet world leaders continue to spend trillions of dollars on war and arms — $1,570,000,000,000 in 2016.

Terrorism is too often fought with terrorism.

War, terrorism, and torture have become tools of the powerful for economic, political and social control. When the peoples of poor countries dare to get rid of their dictators and form popular governments that work toward fairer distribution, the rich, powerful countries often try to destroy those new governments. They pay for terrorism, long wars, and the destruction of schools, health centers, water and sanitation systems, and food and industrial production. The result is still more poverty, disease, and disability.

To help change this situation, we disabled persons of the world must join with all who are disadvantaged or treated unfairly, to struggle for a new, more truly human, world order.

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019