Human Rights – Children and Armed Conflict
Appalled by Number of Children Killed, Maimed in Armed Conflict, Secretary-General Highlights New Efforts with Governments, Non-State Actors to Improve Protection
5 October 2017
The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:
The Secretary-General is appalled that more than 8,000 children were killed and maimed in conflict situations in 2016. These unacceptable attacks on children, as well as the continued widespread recruitment and use of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and sexual violence against children, are detailed in his annual report on children and armed conflict.
The goal of the report is not only to raise awareness of the violations of the rights of children, but also to promote measures that can diminish the tragic plight of children in conflict. The Secretary-General is encouraged that several Governments and non-State actors are now working with the United Nations towards that objective. He hopes that more will follow.
The new Developments & Concerns section included in the report reflects this enhanced United Nations engagement, which should lead to reducing the suffering of children victims of armed conflict and increase their protection. These changes are also reflected in the annexes to the report, which separate those parties who have put in place measures to improve protection of children during the reporting period and those who have not implemented adequate measures.
The Secretary-General once more urges parties to conflict to abide by their responsibility to protect children, in accordance with their obligation under international humanitarian and human rights law. He calls on all parties to conflict to engage with the United Nations to improve the protection of children in line with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict
24 August 2017
II. Addressing the impact of armed conflict on children
A. Overview of the situation of children and armed conflict
5. While in some country situations the impact of armed conflict on children was low in 2016 and few violations were documented, in other country situations incidents affecting children continued at high levels. In 2016, there were at least 4,000 verified violations by government forces and more than 11,500 verified violations by the range of non-State armed groups
6. The recruitment and use of children documented in Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic more than doubled compared with 2015. In South Sudan, 1,022 children were recruited and used. Children continued to be exposed to an unacceptable risk of killing and maiming in a number of country situations. In Afghanistan, the United Nations verified 3,512 child casualties, the highest number ever recorded. In Yemen, the United Nations verified 1,340 child casualties. The
cross-border activities of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), coupled with responses to that group, also led to significant child casualties, with over 2,000 children documented as killed or maimed in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic. The number of child casualties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was also the highest recorded since 2012.
7. In the Lake Chad basin, Boko Haram activities continued to expand from Nigeria into neighbouring countries and attacks against civilians were perpetrated across the region. Sexual violence against girls was prevalent in Nigeria, as well as in other country situations, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic….
Millions of Children Caught in Conflict, Victims and Targets of Despicable Harm
New York, 5 October 2017 – Boys and girls living in countries affected by armed conflict have been victims of widespread violations in 2016, as documented in the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict released today and covering the period from January to December 2016.
The alarming scale and severity of violations against children in 2016 – including shocking levels of killing and maiming, recruitment and use and denial of humanitarian access – is a serious concern for the Secretary-General.
“The tragic fate of child victims of conflict cannot and must not leave us unmoved; a child killed, recruited as a soldier, injured in an attack or prevented from going school due to a conflict is already one too many,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, said.
Children from countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, suffer an unacceptable level of violations by parties to conflict, with at least 4,000 verified violations committed by Government Forces and over 11,500 by non-State armed groups in the 20 country situations covered in the report.
In Syria alone, the number of children recruited and used during the reporting period more than doubled compared to 2015, with 851 verified cases. In Somalia, this number reached 1,915 children recruited and used. Afghanistan recorded the highest number of verified child casualties since the UN started documentation of civilian casualties in 2009, with 3,512 children killed or maimed in 2016, an increase of 24% compare to the previous year.
Abhorrent tactics used by armed groups like Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIL and the Taliban, have included sexual violence and the use of children as human bombs. In Nigeria, the majority of children casualties resulted from the use of children as human bombs and deaths by suicide attacks.
“The level of violations against children is completely unacceptable and merely indicative of the scale of suffering of children as access constraints limit our ability to have the full picture,” Ms. Gamba said. “Such abuses have a dramatic impact, not only on the lives of children, but also on the social fabric of society in affected countries and on global peace and security,” she added.
The denial of humanitarian access by armed groups and Government forces was a disturbing trend in the report, with devastating consequences for children. Attacks on schools and hospitals have also been widely documented in 2016, occurring in almost all countries on the children and armed conflict agenda and depriving thousands of children of their right to education…