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ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy blog: Bombs & blast waves: Why children in conflict need special care

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By Paul Reavley

I’ve deployed numerous times during my career in the military, and on every deployment, I was faced with injured and sick children—the very first patient I ever treated in uniform was a Bosnian child in Kosovo. In fact, Save the Children’s War on Children report states that one in six children in the world live in, or near, a conflict zone and so are at daily risk of being killed or maimed. For those of us who happen to be military medics with a strong interest in paediatrics the report’s findings come as no surprise.

During my multiple tours to Afghanistan and Iraq I encountered the most critically injured children I have ever seen. There were multiple cases of high energy blast and penetrating trauma injuries. I was responsible for their retrieval and emergency treatment. In addition, I took on an overview responsibility for all paediatric care at the Bastion medical facility in Afghanistan. I think I have already seen a lifetime’s worth of severe paediatric trauma. For me, and others, the question is what can we do to be better prepared to treat children like these in the future?

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