(International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression)

Many things have changed in recent years and with them our perception of the world. The Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Eastern Europe and other extremely serious situations, often caused by greed and injustice, continue to occur around the world. 

Beyond the horror of daily media images, we pay little attention to those who are undoubtedly the most vulnerable of all: the children.

According to data from the United Nations and other international agencies, some 250 million children survive in countries in areas affected by armed conflict or under the threat of indiscriminate violent attacks. Child abuse, sexual violence, labour exploitation, kidnapping, human trafficking, indiscriminate attacks on schools and hospitals, and even forced recruitment as soldiers in armed conflicts for which they are responsible for nothing but the most innocent victims. 

Just think, right now, with the war in Ukraine, some 7.5 million children are suffering the devastation wrought by the insanity and barbarity of a war criminal. Hundreds of children have died, thousands have been injured and will carry deep emotional trauma, most likely, for the rest of their lives. Not to mention the situation in orphanages, boarding schools and other institutions where nearly 100,000 children live, more than 50% of whom have some kind of physical or intellectual disability. 

To stop these atrocities, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has a specific programme of action to improve the lives and futures of children around the world, with special emphasis on ending the violence, exploitation and abuse they suffer on a daily basis. 

Hence the importance of upholding international humanitarian law, of protecting the dignity and human rights of every person and, above all, of creating instruments to ensure that those responsible for all atrocities are brought to international justice. The reason is simple: in the face of utter cruelty, States have a common obligation to protect children who are victims of utter senselessness without debate or exceptions of any kind. 

We must raise our voices and demand with all our strength that, above all, the right of every girl and boy to live in an environment of protection, of peace, free of all forms of harassment, of all types of violence and far from any kind of war, must prevail. 

Because the unreason of adults can never erase the smile of those who harbour neither greed nor evil in their hearts. 

Let no one take away their sweetness, their joyful smile, their innocent look and the purity of their heart. 

Let them just be what they are: girls and boys. 

Innocent souls.