Violations against children in conflicts “alarmingly high”: UN | Antonio Guterres News
Serious violations of children in conflict remain “alarmingly high” as the coronavirus pandemic increases their vulnerability to kidnapping, recruitment and sexual violence, according to a new report from the United Nations.
In its Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) (PDF), released on Monday, the United Nations said that in 2020 at least 19,379 war-hit children were victims of serious abuses such as recruitment or rape.
The UN has confirmed a total of 26,425 serious violations, of which 23,946 were committed in 2020 and 2,479 earlier but were not confirmed until 2020.
“The escalation of conflicts, armed clashes and disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights have had serious implications for the protection of children,” the report said.
According to the report, most serious violations were recorded in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
While more than 8,400 children have been killed or injured in ongoing wars, nearly 7,000 more have been recruited into the fight, mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria and Myanmar.
Confirmed cases of kidnapping and sexual violence against children increased by 90 percent and 70 percent, respectively – with kidnappings often related to “child recruitment and use and sexual violence” including rape.
The United Nations said the coronavirus pandemic had “exacerbated existing vulnerabilities of children, including by obstructing their access to education, health and social services, restricting child protection activities and shrinking safe spaces”.
Attacks on schools and hospitals were also widespread in 2020, including serious attacks on girls’ education and on health facilities and their staff.
There has also been an increase in military use of schools and hospitals, particularly with the brief closings of schools during the COVID lockdown – making them easy targets for military occupation and use, the report said.
“Adult wars continued to streak childhood millions of boys and girls in 2020,” said Virginia Gamba, the secretary-general’s special envoy for CAAC.
“This is completely devastating for them, but also for the entire communities in which they live, and destroys the chances for sustainable peace.”
“List of Shame”
Meanwhile, Save the Children in a statement on Monday criticized the CAAC for failing to include perpetrators of child abuse on the so-called “List of Shame,” an addendum to the UN report highlighting parties that fail to Protect children during time conflict.
The human rights group said that UN Secretary General António Guterres “in a disheartening decision” failed to add the Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen.
“Despite the killing and mutilation of at least 194 children in Yemen in 2020, according to UN-verified data, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates is given the green light to continue to destroy the lives of children in Yemen,” said Save the Children .
“Unfortunately, other parties to the conflict in Afghanistan, the occupied Palestinian territories and Syria have also received charter for serious violations of children’s rights – although the UN detects a pattern of serious violations year after year,” it said.
Israel was not included in the list, despite the United Nations’ record of 1,031 serious violations of 340 Palestinians and three Israeli children in the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Israel.
Israeli security forces killed eight Palestinian children and one Israeli child last year, and 87 children reported ill-treatment and due process violations by Israeli forces while in detention – 83 percent of whom reported physical violence.
While Save the Children welcomed the inclusion of countries like Myanmar as a worrying situation, it also noted that Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ukraine were not included.
Commenting on the report, Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children: “We urge the Secretary General to reconsider his decision and bring conflicting parties around the world to the same standard. The decision to add an armed actor to the “List of Shame” should only be based on a UN-approved pattern of serious violations of children, not on politics.
“While there have been some positive steps this year, not applying the same criteria fairly and consistently can have dramatic consequences for children,” she said.