UN Photo/Marco Dormino

La revolución de los niños

LONDRES – Este año ha habido dos imágenes trágicas e inquietantes: verdugos islámicos encapuchados apretando cuchillos contra el pescuezo de víctimas inocentes y trabajadores médicos enmascarados luchando cuesta arriba y con bravura contra un brote de ébola para el que el mundo no estaba preparado, pero el legado duradero de este año será un desastre aún más extenso, para cuya recuperación harán falta años, si no decenios: casi dos millones de niños recién desplazados y atrapados en las zonas de conflicto a través del Iraq, Siria, Gaza, la República Centroafricana y otras partes.

Esos niños han engrosado las filas de los 25 millones de niños y niñas desplazados: número equivalente a la población de un país europeo de tamaño medio y el mayor en los setenta años transcurridos desde el final de la segunda guerra mundial. Las imágenes de niños refugiados, vulnerables y desolados –y que probablemente permanecerán desplazados durante un decenio o más– han llegado a ser tan comunes, que el mundo parece incapaz de comprender lo que está viendo.

Pero la grave situación de los niños refugiados es sólo una razón por la que es necesario un nuevo planteamiento de los derechos de los niños. Este año, se calcula que unos quince millones de niñas en edad escolar pasarán a ser niñas esposas, obligadas por la fuerza a casarse contra su voluntad. Unos catorce millones de niños y niñas menores de catorce años de edad son trabajadores infantiles, muchos de ellos obligados a trabajar en las condiciones más peligrosas, y 32 millones de niñas se ven privadas del derecho fundamental de asistir a la escuela, por la discriminación sexual; unas 500.000 de ellas son víctimas de la trata de blancas todos los años.

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