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The Russian War: What it does to Ukrainian children
By: Anselm Anyoha MD
Based on my background as a child survivor of a civil war, as well as my interest in children's mental health, I believe that children caught up in wars suffer some repercussions. First, there is the obvious immediate effect of death or bodily injuries from the weapons dropped around them. Second, wars disrupt the existing relationships between children and their caregivers. Whether caregivers are killed in conflict or absent because they have gone to fight, children ultimately lose the companionship they had previously enjoyed. Losing the relationship of close family members is a stressful life event for children. Children separated from loved ones are predisposed to social and emotional misbehavior later in life, including lack of empathy for others and antisocial behaviors.
Hopefully, many Ukrainian children who survive the war's stressful conditions will grow up to become successful members of society. They will study the historical account and documentation of the war. Some will notice how close they were to dying as the battle raged around them. They will also demand to know why the world took so long to act to relieve their suffering or save their parents, grandparents, relatives, and friends from dying. They will be grateful for the nations and millions of people who have supported them morally, militarily, and financially.
It still pains me to think of the times when Nigeria was pummeling the Igbos of Biafra in the 1967-1970 civil war. Although some organizations and individuals condemned the attack and supported the Igbos, for which I am forever grateful, only five countries—Haiti, Gabon, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, and Zambia—came to our military and financial aid. As an adult, when I meet people from these countries, I quickly tell them how grateful I am that their folks helped save my life.
The question is, has everybody with clout spoken out against this Ukrainian-Russian war? From famous and influential people to international companies must speak up now. Our collective voices, actions, contributions, and sacrifices tremendously help put an end to this senseless loss of lives and the creation of misery.