UNICEF, the UN's children's agency, laid out 3,758 backpacks on the lawn near its building in New York on September 8 in neat rows reminiscent of a graveyard as a public reminder of how many children die in "violent conflicts" each year.

In its latest humanitarian report on children, UNICEF said more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed in conflict zones last year -- the highest number since the UN started monitoring the figures.

"UNICEF backpacks have always been a symbol of hope and childhood possibility," said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. In just two weeks, world leaders gathering at the UN General Assembly will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

She said the installation, which runs through September 10, "should remind them of the stakes."

One in four children live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, according to the international agency.

"As of early 2018, nearly 31 million children have been forcibly displaced by violence and conflict, including 13 million child refugees and more than 17 million inside their own countries," the UN report said.

In Ukraine, where an armed conflict is in its sixth year between Russia-backed forces and Ukrainian soldiers in the country's two easternmost regions, the report says "some 500,000 childrenare in urgent need of protection and humanitarian assistance, including access to clean drinking water, safe learning environments, quality health care and psychosocial support."

The UN stated that "children pay the heaviest price of war" in "ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and many more."

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of RadioFree Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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