Do you remember UNICEF? Perhaps you remember the “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” program that raised millions of dollars for that organization. They're still around and they're still helping children! Here's a very brief summary of what UNICEF is and what they do:
UNICEF was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. In 1954, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund to the current United Nations Children's Fund but it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on the old name.
UNICEF's mission, put simply, is to provide long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. In their own words, “UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.”
They have also been actively involved in ending violence against women and girls, hosting A Girl’s Right to Learn Without Fear and issuing this Joint statement on ending violence against women and girls. They have also called for additional funding for education in Libya and have been actively bringing attention to problems in Syria – violence against children and interruption of education because of the conflict there.
Two days ago (on Wednesday, March 6, 2103), UNICEF issued an extensive and well-documented report on the abuse of children in a military detention system in the Middle East. Yes, there is a country in the Middle East which is using soldiers to arrest and detain children and is then imprisoning, trying, and convicting children in a military court system – not in a civil court system. These children are often subjected to “intimidation, threats and physical violence”. Sometimes, “Children have been threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member.” Also, “Some children have been held in solitary confinement, for a period ranging from two days up to one month before the court hearing as well as after sentencing. (The judge has the authority to extend the initial four-day period to one month, and then to further extend it up to a maximum of 90 days.)”
Is this Iran doing this to children? Iraq or China, perhaps? Maybe North Korea or Saudi Arabia? No. These facts have not been uncovered by UNICEF in any of those nations. Let's unveil the real culprit below the squiggle, shall we?