Gordon Brown: 2015 a year of fear for refugee children

Gordon Brown says the educational needs of refugee children are forgotten.

Story highlights

  • Gordon Brown: 2015 has become the year of fear for displaced children
  • Oslo Summit on Education for Development takes place this week

Gordon Brown is U.N. special envoy for Global education and former British Prime Minister. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)Nearly one hundred years ago, Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, said that the only international language the world understands is the cry of the child.

But our adult world has been unmoved, as 30 million children -- 7 million of them in the last year alone -- have been displaced from their homes in Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan, Burundi and Myanmar in an exodus of biblical proportions.
    Not since the end of World War II have so many children of so many different nationalities and in so many different territories been caught up in refugee crises. This week's Oslo Summit on Education for Development, led by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, alongside U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, gives us the chance to act now to deal with these glaring abuses against children.
      Gordon Brown
      This year should have been the year of the rights of the child, as we approach the deadline for the U.N. Millennium Development Goals. Instead, 2015 has become the year of fear, as the rising numbers of girls forced into child marriage, youngsters brutalized as child soldiers in boys' militias, and girls trafficked into domestic service or the global sex trade, now perhaps account for as many as half a million of the already vulnerable children who go missing.
      In the past few months, I've visited Jordan, Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Before that I had been to countries from South Sudan and Nigeria to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I wanted to hear the voices of children, and I did. Recent reports on South Sudan last week tell of what the United Nations has called "a new brutality and intensity"; girls and boys being raped and burned alive, and of hundreds of child soldiers being recruited into the army. Innocence is being vaporized for millions of young lives. And only in the past few days have we learned that several of the 287 abducted schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria have been brainwashed into working and killing for their Boko Haram captors.