Annual Report: Children Faced with Unspeakable Violence in Conflict as Number of Grave Violations Increased in 2017

Human Rights – Children and Armed Conflict

Annual Report: Children Faced with Unspeakable Violence in Conflict as Number of Grave Violations Increased in 2017
Press Release
New York, 27 June 2018 – The number of children affected by armed conflict and the severity of grave violations affecting them increased in the past year, concludes the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict released today.

“The report details the unspeakable violence children have been faced with, and shows how in too many conflict situations, parties to conflict have an utter disregard for any measures that could contribute to shielding the most vulnerable from the impact of war,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, declared.

Over 21,000 grave violations of children’s rights have been verified by the United Nations from January to December 2017, an unacceptable increase from previous years (15,500 in 2016).

The crises unfolding in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen brought about serious increases in verified grave violations. In Syria, children have suffered the highest number of verified violations ever recorded in the country. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, crises in the Kasais led to an eightfold increase of attacks on schools and hospitals (515). In a despicable trend, almost half of the 881 verified child casualties in Nigeria resulted from suicide attacks, including the use of children as human bombs.

Over 10,000 children were killed or maimed in 2017 with numbers growing substantially in Iraq and Myanmar, while remaining unacceptably high in Afghanistan and Syria.

“When your own house or your school can be attacked without qualms, when traditional safe-havens become targets, how can boys and girls escape the brutality of war?,” Virginia Gamba, declared. “This shows a blatant disregard for international law by parties to conflict, making civilians, especially children, increasingly vulnerable to violence, use and abuse,” she added…

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Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) Report
Report of the Secretary General
A/72/865–S/2018/465
16 May 2018 :: 42 pages
[Excerpt]
IV. Recommendations
253. I am deeply concerned by the scale and severity of grave violations against children outlined in the present report, including high levels of killing and maiming, recruitment and use, sexual violence and abductions, and call upon all parties to immediately end and take all necessary measures to prevent such grave violations, including through ensuring accountability for perpetrators.

254. I urge Member States, whether acting alone or as part of coalitions or international forces, to ensure that their responses to all threats to peace and security are conducted in full compliance with international law. Children formerly associated with armed forces or groups should be seen primarily as victims and detention should only be used as a last resort, for the shortest period of time, and alternatives to detention should be prioritized whenever possible.

255. I call upon Member States to continue supporting the implementation of action plans and other commitments aimed at strengthening the protection of children in armed conflict, including by facilitating the engagement of the United Nations with armed groups.

256. In view of the continuing high levels of cross-border recruitment and the subsequent challenges in terms of the repatriation and reintegration of children separated from armed forces or groups, I call upon Member States and regional and subregional organizations to engage closely with the United Nations in order to ensure a coordinated response based on international law and keeping in mind the best interest of the child.

257. I encourage Member States, as well as regional and subregional organizations, to further strengthen dedicated child protection capacities and to engage with the United Nations to prioritize the development of tools to forestall grave violations, including through the adoption of prevention plans aimed at systematizing preventive measures.

258. I call upon the Security Council to continue to support the children and armed conflict agenda by including provisions for the protection of children in all relevant mandates of United Nations peace operations and to request adequate child protection capacity in order to mainstream child protection, conduct dialogue on action plans, release and reintegrate children and further strengthen monitoring and reporting.

259. I enjoin the donor community to engage in a discussion to address the funding gaps for the reintegration of children recruited and used and to support the establishment of a multi-year funding mechanism, thereby allowing child protection actors to react swiftly to the release of children and put in place long-term viable alternatives to military life, notably by placing a specific focus on girls, on psychosocial support and on education programmes and vocational training.

260. I welcome all steps taken to ensure full compliance with international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, and call upon Member States to further strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict, including through ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict as well as the endorsement and implementation of the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or groups, the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (Paris Principles) and the Safe Schools Declaration.