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Wars and civil conflicts are taking a massive toll on children. The numbers, though imprecise, are devastating: approximately 2 million children have been killed during the last decade, and between 4 million and 5 million disabled. Twelve million more have been uprooted from their homes, and countless others face the heightened risk of disease and malnutrition and of separation from their families.
International law provides standards for protecting children in war. These standards must be vigorously enforced to create a zone of peace for the young. UNICEF, founded to provide emergency relief for children in the aftermath of World War II, takes this opportunity in its 50th anniversary year to set out an Anti-war Agenda, a series of vital, practical actions to help stall the momentum of violence. The Agenda calls for an end to the recruitment and conscription into the military of children under the age of 18, for a ban on the manufacture, use, stockpiling and sale of all anti-personnel land-mines and for strengthening of procedures to monitor and prosecute war crimes. The Agenda also urges support for long-term development, reconciliation, rehabilitation and education for peace.