December 4, 2018
Jaff, a program coordinator for solutions to complex emergencies in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Research Innovation and Global Solutions unit and adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health at the Gillings School, has had extensive on-the-ground experience working with forcibly displaced people, including refugees, and in areas of armed conflict, especially in the Middle East.
Jaff’s commentary aims to strengthen arguments made by Sherry Shenoda, Ayesha Kadir, Shelly Pitterman and Jeffrey Goldhagen toward a collaborative effort by the American Academy of Pediatrics, child health professionals and national and international partners to respond to the impact armed conflict has had and is having upon children globally.
Jaff called for more clarity about the differing needs and priorities of children suffering from armed conflict, dependent upon their setting and situation. Some, he said, were living in hostile environments, at high risk for life-threatening situations and exploitation. Others, hosted or settled by other nations, struggle with challenges of their long-term status and the difficulty of navigating a new culture.
He also called for innovative, practical and effective approaches to expanding services, improving facilities, increasing security for families seeking services and the provision of culturally tailored health services.
Importantly, Jaff said, more progress must be made toward ending participation of children in armed conflicts and holding accountable those who recruit and exploit children. He encouraged pediatricians and other professionals who have direct experience with the plight of children in conflict zones to add their voices to the authors’.
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