Aaliyah Ismail discusses what she has learned about our work to improve the wellbeing of children facing conflict and other serious hardships around the world.

Celebrated on 20 November, Universal Children’s Day aims to promote well-being and understanding amongst children all over the world. It raises awareness of the hardship and discrimination facing children across the globe.

Amongst the most vulnerable people in the world, who require aid, are displaced children. Ongoing conflict in war-torn countries means that many children are forced to uproot their lives and relocate, with some spending the entirety of their childhood at refugee camps. Whilst basic living necessities may be provided, children often face shortages. They may suffer from physical and psychological trauma and lack the vital care they need in order to be healthy and happy.

Easing suffering and unlocking brighter futures

Islamic Relief works within refugee camps in a variety of countries including Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Syria and Yemen. It helps by implementing programmes within communities to distribute much-needed supplies to alleviate suffering.

The organisation also helps to improve living standards by supporting education and medical services, strengthening infrastructure and creating future career opportunities. This creates a better living environment for children, giving them the chance to achieve the potential they have for a bright, safe future.

In 2013, UNICEF and ILO estimated around 168 million children aged five to 17 were involved in child labour. Impoverished conditions and a lack of educational opportunities force some of the world’s most vulnerable people – including millions of children – into working conditions that put their health and wellbeing at risk.

Islamic Relief projects in countries such as Bangladesh have been established in order to ensure that children are given the chance to have an education instead of being subjected to dangerous working conditions.

Respecting and celebrating children

As a young person myself, I have experienced and observed firsthand the discrimination to which children can be subject. Whether it is on the basis of gender, religious beliefs or ethnic background, socially disadvantaged children face significant challenges.

Providing them with support to allow them to celebrate who they are is vital. Universal Children’s Day was created to educate children on their rights and to promote a joint respect between them to establish a message of equality.

In a famous hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “He who does not show compassion to the young and respect to the elderly is not one of us.”

He saw children as a blessing and believed showing kindness towards them to be an integral part of the Muslim identity. Young people around the globe continue to suffer the impact of war and poverty.

This Universal Children’s Day, Islamic Relief is shedding light onto the harsh, unforgiving realities of conflict and the need to make the world a safer, more enjoyable place for everybody to live; one child at a time.