A staggering average of 71 verified grave violations are committed daily against children by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. This is one of the key findings of a new report entitled “25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war” that UNICEF launched today.
Speaking at a news briefing at the United Nations in Geneva, Tasha Gill, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor on Child Protection in Emergencies, said that “between 2005 and 2020, the United Nations verified over a quarter of a million grave violations against children committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.” Ms. Gill concluded that “this is a staggering average of 71 grave violations against children daily”.
The report analyses 16 years of data on grave rights violations committed against children in conflict situations, from 2005 to 2020, to show the impact of armed conflict on children across the world.
UNICEF’s Ms. Gill emphasized that “between 2016 and 2020, 82 per cent of all verified child casualties occurred in only five situations: Afghanistan, Israel and the State of Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia”.
The report examines how engagement with parties to conflict – state and non-State actors alike – enables ending and preventing child rights grave violations.
According to Tasha Gill, “our analysis shows that despite decades of advocacy with parties to conflict and those who influence them —as well as enhanced monitoring, reporting and documenting grave rights violations—children continue to bear the brunt of war. Every day, girls and boys living in areas under conflict experience and endure unspeakable horrors that no one should experience”.
During the period from 2005 to 2020, UNICEF found that more than 104,000 children were verified as killed or maimed, more than 93,000 children verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict and at least 25,700 were verified as abducted by parties to conflict.
“To give just some sense of the magnitude of the problem: in one decade alone - from 2010 to 2020, there was an increase of 185% of verified grave child rights violations committed against children in conflict situations,” said UNICEF’s Senior Advisor on Child Protection in Emergencies.
She added that “it is also important to note that many children experience more than one violation, increasing their vulnerability. For example, abduction is often combined with or leads to other violations, like recruitment and use and sexual violence”.
The effort of UNICEF staff, other UN and partner organizations to collect and verify information on grave violations to better understand and respond to the needs of children, has received positive results. Since 2000, at least 170,000 children have been released from armed forces, many having survived multiple violations, including abduction or sexual violence.
“While we are complaining or criticizing all members of wars parties to conflict for not upholding their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, we also belief that the international community at large can do more to protect children in conflict”, said Ms. Gill. “These numbers are staggering that I have presented today, and they are the result of an in-depth analysis of 16 years of data”.