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Picture this. You are playing on a beach, the sun is shining and you can

see the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Your friends are by

your side and you are enjoying the moment. Suddenly something

explodes behind you. The force throws you to the ground and life is

taken away from you in the blink of an eye.

This is exactly what happened to four boys aged 9 to 11 from the

Bakr family living in Gaza. They were cousins playing football on the

beach just like any other day. One shell was dropped by Israeli forces

on a fishermen’s shed and the other was dropped right beside them.

They were rushed to hospital, but it was too late. The Israeli military

claimed that the target of the strike was the Hamas terrorist

organisation, the largest Palestinian militant group that opposes

peace with Israel. The deaths of these four boys is only one of many

examples of civilians finding themselves trapped in armed conflict.

The inhabitants of war-torn countries have no rights. CNN

reporter, Karl Penhaul, was told by locals in Gaza that the previous

night, the Israeli Air Force dropped down pamphlets telling them to

leave because they were going to bomb these areas the following

morning. Despite it being good that Israel gave the civilians warning

of their attacks, it does not make the situation right. One man

leaving with his family said he felt like they were already dead.

Civilian homes are treated like Lego blocks that can be rebuilt just as

quickly as they are torn down. The truth is, that when the bombs hit

and homes are destroyed, people will have nowhere to go and

nothing left.

Conflicts in Gaza have resulted in more than 3,000 people dead.

Not only Gaza, but during the decade-long war in Afghanistan, it

was estimated that at least 21,000 civilians were killed. The number

of civilian casualties in Pakistan was as high or even higher with the

death toll being from 20,000 to 50,000. The Iraq body count

estimated that as a result of direct war violence starting in early May

2014, at least 133,000 civilians were killed. These statistics show

howmerciless war can be and also how urgently the civilians of these

countries need to make their voices heard.

One of the doctors in rural Damascus, Syria, said that ‘it’s like a

terrifying nightmare that just keeps going on and on. You live

everyday as if it’s your last because you might die any second’. The

conflict in Syria is between the government and the rebels, again,

leaving innocent civilians in the firing line. The Syrian government


in Armed

Conflict –


Angela Yan

Orator of the Year

Highly Commended