Grave violations against children in conflict remain ‘alarmingly high’- UN



Grave violations against children in conflict remain ‘alarmingly high’- UN

By Cecilia Ologunagba

UN says grave violations against children remain “at an alarming level” at nearly 26,500, as pandemic has increased their vulnerability to kidnappings, recruitment and sexual violence, as well as attacks on schools and hospitals.

The UN in its annual report on children and armed conflict (CAAC), released on Monday, said as many as 19,300 war-affected boys and girls in 2020 were victims of serious violations.

The report is titled “A Stolen Childhood and a Future to Mend: Girls ‘and Boys’ Vulnerability in Armed Conflict Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic”.

He said they were victims of serious violations such as recruiting or rape, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for experts to reach them.

Measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus have also complicated the work of United Nations child protection observers and experts.

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary General for ACAC, said: “The wars of adults have taken the childhoods of millions of boys and girls again in 2020.

“It is completely devastating for them, but also for all the communities in which they live, and destroys the chances of a lasting peace,” she said.

Recruitment and use, as well as the murder and mutilation of children, were the most prevalent violations in 2020, followed by denial of humanitarian access and kidnappings, according to the report.

More than 8,400 young people have been killed or maimed in the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, while nearly 7,000 others have been recruited and used in fighting, mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Somalia, Syria and Myanmar.

The researchers reported an “exponential growth” in kidnappings, which increased by 90% in 2020, while rape and other forms of sexual violence also increased by 70%.

Meanwhile, attacks on schools and hospitals “have remained disproportionately high”, including serious attacks on girls’ education and on health facilities and staff.

There has also been an increase in the military use of schools, as the temporary closure of schools during the pandemic made them easy targets for military occupation and use.

The report further found that girls made up a quarter of all child victims of serious violations.

“They were also primarily affected by rape and other forms of sexual violence, accounting for 98% of victims, followed by killings and mutilations.

In addition, Gamba said that while boys and girls experience conflict differently and require interventions to better meet their specific needs, the data also showed that conflicts were not differentiated by gender.

Despite sobering statistics, the report also details tangible progress in dialogues with warring parties in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Sudan and Syria.

Some 35 new or other commitments were made in 2021 to better protect children, including two new action plans signed in Myanmar and South Sudan.

In addition, armed groups and forces released more than 12,643 children from their ranks as a result of the UN engagement.

Many more boys and girls have been spared from recruitment due to age selection processes in situations where the UN has action plans with governments to stop the recruitment and use of children.

However, the report indicates that progress has been made as child protection capacities on the ground are both overused and underfunded.

Gamba commended the teams working on the ground throughout the pandemic and in challenging environments to ensure peace and protection for children.

She stressed the need to secure resources for child protection at a time of extreme suffering for children, given the many setbacks in democratic processes earlier this year and the rise in violence between warring parties. .

“This is an opportunity to stop and reflect on the suffering we cause to our children, who are our future.

“We must offer children an alternative to violence and abuse: we need peace, respect for children’s rights and democracy.

“We need hope in good governance. We must act to build a future where there is peace. Please offer this alternative to children, ” the senior UN official said. (NAA)


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