Category Archives: Africa

Conflict kills 300 children every day

More than half a million babies may have died as a result of conflict over the past five years, according to a new report by Save the Children. That’s an average of more than 100,000 deaths annually – or 300 babies every day.

Save the Children - war zone photo

At least 550,000 deaths of children under the age of one could be attributed to the effects of conflict in the 10 worst-affected conflict zones between 2013 and 2017, the most recent year for which data was available, the charity found.

Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Somalia are the countries where children were hardest hit by conflict.

The death toll does not include children killed directly by fighting. Instead, it estimates the number of infants and young children who may have died from the knock-on effects of nearby conflict, such as starvation, outbreaks of disease, damage to hospitals, or delays to aid deliveries.

Child deaths rose to 870,000 when all children under the age of five were included. The estimates are likely conservative. By comparison, the charity estimates that almost 175,000 fighters or soldiers were killed in the conflicts over the same five-year period.

The horrific impact on children is partly the result of protracted modern conflicts, often fought among civilian populations. But there is also a crisis in accountability – with persistent, widespread and sometimes deliberate violations of children’s rights across the globe.

Save the Children is calling for the UK to urgently implement a new strategy for protecting civilians – with children front and centre – covering diplomacy, defence and aid.

Britain’s cross-government ‘Protection of Civilians Strategy’ was last updated in 2010 and has no specific provisions for children or other vulnerable groups.

Save the Children is calling for the UK to:

  • Track civilian harm and comprehensively record civilian casualties in conflicts the UK is engaged in, as recommended by the Chilcot Inquiry;
  • Acknowledge the harm from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, avoid its use and take measures to reduce their impact on civilians and civilian infrastructure;
  • Consistently call out violations against children in conflict, including by allies;
  • Raise the urgency of protecting civilians wherever Britain has a seat at the table – including at the UN Security Council, NATO and the G7.

Kevin Watkins, CEO of Save the Children, said: “The UK should be using its global influence to protect children living in war zones. From Yemen to Syria and South Sudan, children are bearing the horror of armed conflict.

“Some are treated as collateral damage in urban bombing. Others are deliberately targeted for killing, abduction and recruitment by armed groups. Millions go hungry because humanitarian aid is obstructed.

“Britain should send a clear message to the world: the war on children must end, and those who commit crimes against children will be held to account.”

Prince Harry invites Lesotho choir to perform with Coldplay

Prince Harry has invited a choir from Lesotho in Africa to perform alongside supergroup Coldplay at his Sentebale charity concert at Kensington Palace on Tuesday 28 June.

Basotho Youth Choir rehearsal in MCC

The Basotho Youth Choir rehearse at the ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre

Last week six boys and six girls aged 7-19 arrived from southern Africa in London. They flew from a country with a population of just 2 million to join a bill headlined by a band whose twitter followers top 7 million. It is the furthest any have ever travelled from home. Their flights were supported by Avios travel rewards which is also arranging a sight-seeing tour of the UK capital.

Among the 12-strong Basotho Youth Choir is 16-year-old Relebohile ‘Mutsu’ Potsane. He was just four when Prince Harry first met him during his 2004 gap year visit to the country where one in three children are orphans, only one in five have access to primary school education and more than half the population lives in poverty. Prince Harry founded Sentebale – ‘forget me not’ – in 2006 with Prince Seeiso, who will also be at the concert, to help young people affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

MASERU, LESOTHO - NOVEMBER 26:  Prince Harry hugs 'Mutso' a young boy he made friends with on his first visit to lesotho at the Official Opening of the new Mamohato Children's Centre on October 17, 2015 in Maseru, Lesotho. In a photography project supported by Getty Images the vulnerable children at the Mamohato Camp have been using Instant photography as an educational tool to build interpersonnel skills and creativity. The Sentebale Mamohato Children's Centre at Thaba Bosiu just outside Maseu is Sentebale's first purpose built camp for the disadvantaged and HIV positive childen of Lesotho. Getty Images  Sentebale is a charity started by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho ten years ago to help the vulnerable children of Lesotho.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Prince Harry;Mutsu Potsane

Prince Harry greets Mutsu at the opening of the ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre in November 2015

The choir members have all been supported by Sentebale’s Secondary School Bursaries programme – which covers the cost of school fees, uniform and books for some of Lesotho’s most disadvantaged children without the family structures to care for them – and Care for Vulnerable Children Programme which enables families and communities to provide care, health and education for those most in need.

Music and singing is at the heart of Basotho culture and before arriving in London the choir has spent time rehearsing at Sentebale’s ‘Mamohato Children’s Centre. Its opening in November 2015 was the last time Prince Harry saw Mutsu before they were reunited today in Croydon. The choir was busy rehearsing with Grammy and BRIT Award singer Joss Stone, who visited Lesotho in her role as Sentebale ambassador in 2014, when Prince Harry made a surprise appearance.

Sentebale today revealed that Stone and Sentebale’s first appointed Ambassador, Argentine high-goal polo player, Nacho Figueras have been added to the concert line-up, and that British journalist and novelist Tom Bradby will MC. They join British soul singer songwriter Laura Mvula, African-Norwegian duo Nico and Vinz and BRIT Award-nominated spoken word artist and Sentebale ambassador George Mpanga, aka George the Poet, who visited Lesotho in 2015 for the opening of the Mamohato Children’s Centre. In addition, up-and-coming classical-crossover soprano Alicia Lowes will provide pre-concert entertainment as guests arrive.

Despite progress to reduce the number of new HIV infections globally over the past 20 years and ensure those living with HIV access treatment, HIV is still the number one cause of death in 10-19 year olds in Africa. Lesotho has the world’s second highest HIV infection rate and of 21,000 young people aged 10-19 living with HIV just 30 per cent access treatment. Stigma is the biggest barrier to youth care and Sentebale hopes its charity concert – the first open-air pop concert on the East Lawn – will raise vital funds and awareness. The 3,000 tickets sold-out in less than an hour in May.

Cathy Ferrier, CEO of Sentebale, said: “The world has committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 but ignorance and misunderstanding continues to undermine those efforts. Stigma, discrimination and lack of education about HIV/AIDS means young people in Africa are increasingly dying when AIDS-related deaths are in decline for all other age groups. Together we have an opportunity to end an epidemic that has defined public health for a generation but it won’t go away unless we act now. The Sentebale concert is all about bringing people together to make a difference.”

Sentebale carries out HIV testing and counselling to ensure the other 70 per cent of 10-19 year olds in Lesotho living with HIV access treatment. The charity also provides care and education to orphans, children with disabilities and young shepherds or ‘herd boys’, and last year delivered over 60,000 hours of psychosocial support. Its concert is sponsored and supported by The Handa Foundation, Quintessentially Foundation, Huntswood, Avios, Getty Images, The&Partnership and The BRIT School.

For more information visit www.sentebale.org or follow @Sentebale #SentebaleConcert