Chained Childhood

Calling it labour is too meliorative, since it is actually slavery without chains, but the fastening is so tight that prevents those human beings from becoming the hope of the world.

When colleague Nacianceno commented in Granma newspaper the painful feeling that overcame him after watching Peruvian children weaving in and out the traffic in Lima to sell meager products that contribute to the family sustenance, he recalled similar scenes in Jakarta, New Delhi and other places in the underdeveloped world, just when it was announced that the United Nations (UN) intends to declare 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of the so-called Child Labour.

But, I personally think that calling it labour is too meliorative, since it is actually slavery without chains, but the fastening is so tight that prevents those human beings from becoming the hope of the world.

Now, it is said that such a labour has decreased by half in our continent, but it does not clarify that it has taken new forms, which remain hidden and stats do not register the children who are prostituted in several Latin American countries and United States.

Nowadays, some 250 million children work around the world and over 150 million do so in dangerous conditions; further, over 1 million children become human trafficking victims every year.

But the said slave labour refers to any activity that deprives children of their childhood, harms their physical and mental health, and consequently avoids their adequate development.

The worst forms of child labour are forced labour, trafficking, debt bondage or servitude. This also includes illegal activities or activities that can endanger the children’s safety, health and morality, such as prostitution, pornography, compulsory or forced recruitment due to armed conflicts, drug trafficking, etc.

In this context, forced labour comprises household chores carried out during long hours in an unhealthy environment, in dangerous places that require the use of dangerous materials or tools, or that force the child to carry objects that are too heavy.

And although I don’t agree because the life of the child and teenager is always burdened, certain activities are not considered labour or exploitation, because they entail to help their parents complete the daily chores of the family, which the children can dedicate a few hours every week to and that allows them to earn some money for their expenses.
But it brings about negative effects for their education.

Likewise, this way of hiding the situation we’re approaching does not avoid the difficulty of the chores in tough conditions that can cause their early aging, malnutrition, depression or drug abuse.

Disadvantaged, minority or abducted children lack protection. Their employers do whatever necessary to make them completely invisible and, therefore, they are able to exert absolute control over them. They work in demeaning conditions, which undermine all their main rights and principles.

On the other hand, they are not in a position to have a normal education and thus will be destined to become illiterate adults, without having the possibility to grow in their social and professional life.

In some cases, child labour also endangers the child’s dignity and morality, especially when he/she is a victim of sexual exploitation, such as child prostitution or pornography.

In addition, working children are more exposed to malnutrition and usually become victims, I underline, of physical, mental and sexual violence.

While in our country a real revolution does it all so the aforementioned evil things do not happen here and collaborates so that such a condition disappears in the rest of the world, there are I reiterate, 250 million child labourers aged 5-17 years old; over half do dangerous works and some 8.5 million do so in slavery conditions, trapped in the worst illegal, demeaning and dangerous forms.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

A Child Dies Violently in Honduras Every Day: UNICEF

"The gangs sow terror throughout the country and offer young people an impossible choice: Join or die," UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said.

In Honduras, a child under 18 dies violently every day, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

RELATED: Honduras Imprisons Journalist for Uncovering Corruption Scandal

UNICEF director Henrietta Fore Wednesday visited Honduras, which she emphasized is not a nation at war, though the rate of violence is astronomical. Since 2010, Honduras has been host to one of the highest murder rates in the world.

"Honduras continues to be a dangerous place for too many children and adolescents. The gangs sow terror throughout the country and offer young people an impossible choice: Join or die," she said.

Fore listened to the testimonies of the affected population and indicated that more than half a million children of school age do not have access to secondary education.

Un niño muere en Honduras cada día. Para un país que no participa en una guerra activa la cifra es asombrosa. Una educación de calidad y un fin a la violencia pueden ofrecer esperanza y mejores oportunidades para niños y niñas.

"Leaving school is the only way in which young people can escape the threats and harassment of the gangs, and their forced recruitment, especially when on their way to school they go through areas controlled by those," Fore explained.

Thousands of Honduran children and their families continue to be forced to escape from increased violence, poverty and few to no opportunities to attend school or work. UNICEF warned that the journey of migrants along very dangerous routes will continue until a solution for the problems that have led to the exodus is achieved.

One of the testimonies received by Fore asserted that "we do not migrate to have a better life, we migrate to survive."

Fore has called on the Central American governments to implement social policies that allow access to education and end violence. H

Her visit and comments come just as the “mother of all caravans” is building up in Honduras, according to Mexican authorities. At least 1,500 people have begun to march northward to Mexico and the United States following the footsteps of previous caravans that made similar journies last year many of whom were denied entry into the United States and are waiting in Mexico for their asylum applications. Others have received refugee status in Mexico.


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War-stricken Yemen 'living hell' for all children: UN official

Yemen has turned into a "living hell" for all children with thousands dying every year from malnutrition and easily preventable diseases, a top UN official says as Saudi Arabia presses ahead with its bloodshed and atrocities in the course of its three-and-a-half-year-old war against the impoverished country.

"Yemen is today a living hell -- not for 50 to 60 percent of the children -- it is a living hell for every boy and girl in Yemen," Geert Cappelaere, the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at UN children's agency UNICEF, told reporters in the Jordanian capital of Amman on Sunday.

He called on the warring parties to join proposed peace talks due to be held later this month and agree to a ceasefire across the conflict-ravaged Yemen.

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) warned that more than seven million children are facing a serious threat of famine in Yemen.


“Today, 1.8 million children under the age of five are facing acute malnutrition, and 400,000 are affected by severe acute malnutrition,” Cappelaere said late in October 31.

Elsewhere in his Sunday remarks, the UN official said malnutrition leads to the death of 30,000 children each year in Yemen, while one child dies every 10 minutes from easily preventable diseases.

Cappelaere added that the figures were "a reminder for all of us to realize how dire the situation has become."

"We call on all parties to get together later this month under the leadership of the UN special envoy... and agree on a ceasefire and a road to peace for Yemen," he said.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Yemen is teetering “on a precipice”, appealing to the international community to put an end to the Saudi war on the impoverished nation.

“Yemen today stands on a precipice. On the humanitarian side, the situation is desperate. We must do all we can to prevent the already dire conditions from deteriorating,” said the UN chief in a press conference, adding that the consequences of such a war would be “terrible” for the Yemeni nation.

Leading a coalition of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who resigned amid popular discontent and fled to the Arab kingdom.

Since the onset of the imposed war, the Yemeni army, backed by fighters of the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, has been defending the impoverished nation against the brutal aggression. The coalition, supported by the United States, is also resolute to crush the movement as another goal in its war on Yemen, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

Saudi Arabia has so far achieved none of its objectives in Yemen. Riyadh had declared at the start of the invasion that the war would take no more than a couple of weeks.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

A number of Western countries, the United States and Britain in particular, are also accused of being complicit in the ongoing aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment as well as logistical and intelligence.

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U.S. Blockade Damages Cuban Food and Agricultural Industries

Havana, Aug 26 (Prensa Latina) The food and agricultural industries are today two of the most affected sectors in Cuba due to the U.S. economic blockade on the island, lasting almost six decades, revealed a report by the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

In the most recent analysis of the financial hits caused by the Washington policy, it is detailed that during the period of April, 2017 to March, 2018, the losses represented four billion 321.2 million USD, an increase of 66 million 195 thousand 100 dollars compared to the previous period.

The greatest damage, says the report, is the prohibition to put national products in the U.S. market.

In the case of rum, the Havana Club considered one of the most prestigious worldwide in the elaboration of spirits, a loss estimated in 90 million 930 thousand USD is inflicted by the ban to access the U.S. market.

Other brands like rum Santiago de Cuba, Isla del Tesoro and Cubay, with an exporting potential to the U.S. market of no less than 200 thousand boxes a year, cannot put their products in that market, despite the interest expressed by the main distributors of that country.

The revenues which the island could not Access would have allowed the reinvestment and the creation of a solid infrastructure in the food industry, adds the report.

The Cuban government had to make great efforts to achieve the results obtained in food security which, despite the damages caused by the blockade, are recognized by specialized agencies of the United Nations System, elaborates the document.

According to recently published data by the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF), Cuba is considered as the only

country in Latin America and the Caribbean free of severe infant malnutrition.

Cuba presents sincwe 1992 a resolution project demading the end of the U.S. blockade before the U.N. General Assembly, will again present it for the 27th time next October 31.

During the voting last year, it had the support of 191 of the 193 member countries, with the sole opposition of the United States and Israel.

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Gibara International Film Festival Links Several Arts in Cuba (+Photos)

Gibara, Cuba, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) The president of the Gibara International Film Festival (FIC Gibara), Jorge Perugorria, reiterated his commitment to the continuity of Humberto Solas' work by inaugurating the event that interweaves various arts today.

Gibara or The White Crab Village, as it is also known, is located on the northeast coast of the island, 764 kilometers from Havana.

During the first gala, held at the local Jiba cinema, the Lucia de Honor Awards were given to Cuban actors Mirta Ibarra and Salvador Wood, and to filmmaker Enrique Pineda Barnet, for their life-long work.

The companies Acosta Danza and Codanza enriched with their choreographies the opening ceremony of the event, where tribute was also paid to the founder of the event, who passed away, with the screening of the documentary Humberto Solas: virtuosity and excellence, by the director Manuel Jorge.

Dedicated to childhood and adolescence, this edition features exhibitions by UNICEF, the Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) and community actions by the Latin American and Caribbean Platform for the Audiovisual Universe of Children and Adolescents (UNIAL).

Projections of the classic Memoirs of Underdevelopment and Lucia by Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Humberto Solas, respectively, and performances by Benicio del Toro of Terry Gilliam's films Fear and Disgust in Las Vegas, and The Shape of Water, which won four Oscars, are among the most eagerly awaited.

Other proposals for the festival include a concert in homage to the Argentine director Eliseo Subiela, with the soundtrack of his film The Dark Side of the Heart; talks with the awardees of the 2018 Lucia of Honour; panels on gender and audiovisuals in childhood and adolescence; and the exhibition Retrospective, by the plastic artist Cosme Proenza.

The House of Culture of Gibara has already hosted a panel entitled S.O.S. Heritage: Resilience and Integrity and the opening of the exhibition entitled Nocturnal: Movie Posters.

One of the best theatre productions in the country at the moment came here from Osvaldo Doimeadios, who directed the actresses Venice Feria and Andrea Doimeadios, the latest winner of the Aquelarre 2017 Screenplay Award for this work.

The screening of the films Sergio & Serguei, co-produced by Spain, Cuba and the United States by Ernesto Daranas, and 25 hours, a US-Cuba co-production by Carlos Barba, are also among the proposals for the upcoming days of Jiba cinema.

The audience is also waiting for the concerts of Cuban singer-songwriters Polito Ibañez, Raul Paz and David Torrenz, in the Plaza da Silva, where they will alternate with Pancho Cespedes and Sintesis.

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How 2016 Became the Worst Year for Syrian Children

According to UNICEF the state of affairs of Syrian children has been deteriorating since last year. The organization's latest report published on March 12 suggests that at least 652 children were killed in military clashes in 2016. That is 20% more than last year.

Syrian army soldiers carry flags in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017.
Reflections on Six Years of Conflict in Syria        © REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki

About 255 children were killed at or near school. More than 850 children were involved in military hostilities, which is 2.5 times more than that in the previous few years. It should be noted however, that the report statistically accounted for only the officially confirmed cases.

As the war against terrorists rages in Syria the militants are increasingly using children in combat clashes on the front lines and turning them into suicide bombers.

The former regional representative of UNICEF in the Middle East, Ahmed Khalifa, told Sputnik Arabic that these sad figures speak of the great sufferings and troubles of the Syrian children.

“As a result of the six-year conflict about 6 million small Syrian citizens are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance,” Khalifa said.

He further said that there are 250,000 children living in blockade conditions. These children are in the worst situation because they do not receive any humanitarian assistance.

“They are suffering from diseases that cannot be cured at home without any medical assistance or prescriptions,” the former representative said.

According to UNICEF more than 1 million Syrian children have become displaced  inside Syria, with another 2.3 having fled the country. These children are constantly in danger of getting kidnapped and enslaved.

Earlier, Sputnik reported that, according to estimates made by Norwegian media, six years of war have taken a terrible toll on the mental health of Syrian children.

Every fourth Syrian child was found to be struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-harm, substance abuse and/or depression, a survey conducted by Save the Children reveals. Two out of three children surveyed also answered they had lost a loved one, had their home destroyed or sustained war-related injuries themselves, the Norwegian news portal ABC Nyheter reported.

Save the Children surveyed 458 children and adolescents in all 14 of Syria's provinces (governorates) to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the Syrian war. Of those interviewed, 80 percent said they had become more aggressive, 71 percent suffered from bedwetting and involuntary urination, 51 percent resorted to drugs to cope and 50 percent admitted that they never felt safe, be it at home or at school.

These are possibly signs of so-called "toxic stress," i.e., prolonged stress that can lead to life-long issues with learning, behavior and health.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting a number of opposition factions and extremist groups.

Russia has been carrying out regular humanitarian aid deliveries to various parts of Syria and has been facilitating the distribution of UN aid in Syria where a civil war has been ongoing since 2011.

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‘Dying in silence’: Suffering of Syrian children at its worst, millions under attack, says UNICEF

There are now nearly 6 million Syrian children suffering from the perils of war, including hundreds who were killed, maimed or recruited to fight in 2016, the worst year on record for Syrian children, a UN watchdog has said.

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down,”said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, speaking from Homs, Syria. “Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future.” 


At least 652 children died last year, and 255 of them were killed in or near their schools, the UNICEF report said. That signals a 20 percent increase on the number killed during 2015. 

“A father in Aleppo lives with the trauma of letting his daughters go to school,” Cappelaere said, retelling one of the many heart-breaking stories from the conflict. “They left their makeshift home one morning with their schoolbags on their backs. Only their lifeless bodies returned after a shell slammed into their classroom.”

UNICEF also believes more than 850 children were recruited to take part in hostilities – double the number in 2015 – and were used as executioners, suicide bombers or prison guards.

While horrifying, the number pales in comparison to the 5.8 million Syrian children who are dependent on humanitarian assistance – a twelvefold increase from 2012, the organization said.

“Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, children are dying in silence often from diseases that can otherwise be easily prevented. Access to medical care, lifesaving supplies and other basic services remains difficult,” the report added.

Almost half of those in need were displaced, many of them up to seven times, and over 2.3 million children are now living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

Child refugees living in relative safety in neighboring countries are still deprived of some basic needs, unable to go to school and forced to beg or do low-paying jobs to make the ends meet, the UNICEF report said.

Unsurprisingly, many children took life-threatening journeys on the so called ‘death boats’ crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Read more Almost six years of Syrian conflict, through eyes of children

Inside Syria, 2.8 million children are living in hard-to-reach areas, including 280,000 living literally on the battlefield, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid.

As the country’s welfare system shrinks, families “are taking extreme measures just to survive, often pushing children into early marriage and child labor,” the report said. “In more than two thirds of households, children are working to support their families, some in extremely harsh conditions unfit even for adults.”

“I don’t know how to read or write. I only know how to draw the sky, the sea and the sun. I’ve waited tables, I served beans, corn, hummus, water pipe, potatoes, seeds. I’ve cleaned the shop and served ice cream to children,” said Fares, a six-year-old Syrian boy now living in Lebanon.

READ MORE: ‘They don’t want to be refugees’: RT sees Syria’s children surviving through war

With the Syrian war about to enter its sixth year, more and more people have become food-insecure. Inadequate food as a result of the protracted violence leads to poor nutrition among children and is weakening their immune system, UNICEF said, stressing that even ordinary diseases are now fatal.

“The situation for Syrian children has hit rock bottom,” said Juliette Touma, UNICEF’s regional spokesperson.

“The past year has been the worst since the crisis began, with children pushed right to the brink – being recruited at an ever younger age, being used to man checkpoints, being trained to use weapons, serving as prison guards. We also have reports of sexual abuse of girls by underage children, so it’s very grim.”

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Malnutrition Threatens 1.4 Million Children in Many Countries, UNICEF

More than 1.4 million children are in imminent danger of suffering from malnutrition in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, the United Nations Children''s Fund (UNICEF) warned today.

According to the specialized agency, the threat could translate into a deplorable reality at any time of the year, unless action is taken.

'Time is running out for these children, but we can still do something to save many lives,' UNICEF CEO Anthony Lake said in a statement.

According to Lake, the famine that endangers so many minors is a response to human actions, especially conflicts over power and crises related to violent extremism.

'Our common humanity calls for immediate action because we cannot afford to repeat 2011 famine in the Horn of Africa,' he said in reference to a phenomenon associated with drought in the region, which affected 13 million people.

UNICEF assures that in Northeastern Nigeria, 450,000 children could be malnourished in the states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobi, hit by the fundamentalist militia Boko Haram.

In Yemen, 460,000 children were to suffer the same fate, largely as a result of the conflict that has affected that country of the Arabian Peninsula in recent years, where rebels of Houthi tribe and troops loyal to the government, supported by a foreign coalition led by Saudi Arabia, fight.

With respect to Somalia and South Sudan, the Fund expects the phenomenon to hit 270,000 children in each of these nations, hence the urgency of the international community's response.

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