Reflecting on my own background, being born and briefly raised in the Middle East, I’m acutely aware of the complexities, tragedies and turmoil of politics & war, as a child. As I consider the current situation in Gaza, my heart aches for the children caught in this relentless cycle of conflict and trauma, that has spilled on to both sides of the border. The destruction of their schools, homes, and health facilities is more than just a news story for me; it’s a painful reminder of the fragility of life and innocence in war-torn regions.
As of today, the Gaza strip is the most dangerous place to be a child. More than 10,000 children have been killed in Palestine since October 2023, according to Save the Children. Yes, 10,000!!! I am troubled by the mental health crisis among these children; knowing that four out of five are suffering from depression, grief, and fear, with more than half contemplating suicide, is heart-wrenching. I can’t help but think of their lost childhoods and the long-term impacts on their mental and physical health. These are not just statistics; they are young lives that are forever altered by circumstances beyond their control. They didn’t ask for any of this.
The physical injuries these children suffer are equally devastating and was horrified to learn that more than 10 children per day have lost limbs, since the conflict began. The image of healthcare systems so overwhelmed that they perform amputations without anesthesia, is something that should haunt any parent. This not only represents a grave violation of children’s rights but also calls for a global response and accountability.
Beyond the physical dangers, the exploitation of children by Hamas in Gaza is something that is totally deplorable. The use of children as a tool for hostage negotiations, or for tasks like transporting ammunition is not just a violation of their rights; it’s a theft of their innocence and a perpetuation of the cycle of violence. This should disturb anyone who values the sanctity of childhood, as their lives will never be the same again.
Reflecting on the past decade, the military conflicts in Syria and Ukraine have similarly impacted children’s lives. It’s distressing to see how a decade-long Syrian war has robbed a generation of their access to healthcare, education, and simple peace. Similarly, the invasion of Ukraine and the resulting destruction of educational facilities and exposure of children to violence, is a tragedy that transcends borders.
The long-term repercussions of war on children are profound and far-reaching. More than one in ten children worldwide are affected by armed conflict, facing immediate harm and long-term challenges. My family and I had to flee the Iranian revolution in 1979, and as someone who witnessed a military conflict as a child firsthand, I know that these experiences disrupt children’s development, mental health, and can have lasting effects across their lifespans.
As a father of three, my heart goes out to all kids who suffer in war zones, regardless of their faith, skin color, or on which side of the conflict they find themselves. These children endure unimaginable suffering, and their stories of pain and loss resonate with me deeply. They remind us of our collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable, and to work tirelessly for peace and humanitarian aid.
This is a call to action for all of us, to end this madness and safeguard the most innocent among us: the children, regardless of what side of the border or map they live.
I like to spend my time giving back with organizations that focus on mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs. I have supported after school programs that focus on entrepreneurial and global initiatives in local primary schools. I recently extended my mentoring to include students at Case Western Reserve University.