2014 has been a 'devastating' year for children but many crises have been 'quickly forgotten', says UNICEF

(Photo: Reuters)

2014 saw a staggering number of children affected by violence and sickness.

"As many as 15 million children are caught up in violent conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the State of Palestine, Syria and Ukraine—including those internally displaced or living as refugees," the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported on December 8.

The UN agency added, "Globally, an estimated 230 million children currently live in countries and areas affected by armed conflicts."

The Ebola outbreak that has claimed thousands of lives has also left thousands of children orphaned and about 5 million out-of-school youths in its wake.

Anthony Lake, the UNICEF executive director, said, "This has been a devastating year for millions of children."

"Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds; they have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves.

"Never in recent memory have so many children been subjected to such unspeakable brutality."

Lake further reported that undreds of children have been kidnapped from their schools or on their way to school.

"Tens of thousands have been recruited or used by armed forces and groups. Attacks on education and health facilities and use of schools for military purposes have increased in many places," he said.  

But UNICEF warned that the high number of crises this year means  that "many were quickly forgotten or captured little attention".

The agency ended their statement with a call to action: "Violence and trauma do more than harm individual children—they undermine the strength of societies. The world can and must do more to make 2015 a much better year for every child."

The UNICEF is an agency that focuses on the needs and rights of children. It aims to provide humanitarian and developmental assistance to youths and mothers in developing countries.