Children's rights violations rising in world, UNICEF

03 January, 09:00

    (ANSAmed) - ROMA, 03 GEN - UNICEF warned Friday that 2021 had brought "a spate of grave violations against children in both protracted and new conflicts".

    The year that just ended has brought a spate of grave violations against children in both protracted and new conflicts, UNICEF warned in a December 31 press release.

    "From Afghanistan to Yemen, and Syria to northern Ethiopia, thousands of children paid a devastating price as armed conflict, inter-communal violence, and insecurity continued.

    Just last week, at least four children were reportedly among the victims as at least 35 people were killed - including two Save the Children staff members - in Kayah State in Eastern Myanmar," it noted.

    Tragedy of child rights violations across the world "Year after year, parties to conflict continue to demonstrate a dreadful disregard for the rights and wellbeing of children," said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. "Children are suffering, and children are dying because of this callousness.

    Every effort should be made to keep these children safe from harm." "Whilst data for 2021 is not yet available, in 2020, 26,425 grave violations against children were verified by the UN. The first three months of 2021 saw a slight decrease in the overall number of verified grave violations, however, verified cases of abduction and sexual violence continued to rise at alarming rates - by more than 50 and 10 per cent, respectively - compared with the first quarter of the previous year," the press release stated.

    "Verified abductions were highest in Somalia, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger.) Verified instances of sexual violence were highest in the DRC, Somalia and the Central African Republic," it added.

    It went on to noted that the United Nations has verified 266,000 cases of grave violations against children in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America over the past 16 years but that the true figures will be far higher.

    "Afghanistan, for example, has the highest number of verified child casualties since 2005, at more than 28,500 - accounting for 27 per cent of all verified child casualties globally.

    Meanwhile, the Middle East and North Africa region has the highest number of verified attacks on schools and hospitals since 2005, with 22 such attacks verified in the first six months of this year," the press release added.

    "In October, UNICEF highlighted that 10,000 children had been killed or maimed in Yemen since fighting escalated in March 2015, the equivalent of four children every day.," it said.

    "Away from the headlines, the UN has verified violations in countries like Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Libya, Mozambique, and the Philippines." Child protection urged "UNICEF is calling for all parties to conflict - including the 61 listed in the annexes of the 2021 Secretary-General's annual report on children and armed conflict - to commit to formal action plans and take concrete measures to protect children.

    These include preventing grave violations from occurring in the first place, releasing children from armed forces and groups, protecting children from sexual violence, and stopping attacks on hospitals and schools," it said.

    "Ultimately, children living through war will only be safe when parties to conflict take concrete action to protect them and stop committing grave violations," said Fore. "As we approach the end of 2021, I call on all parties to conflict to end attacks against children, uphold their rights and strive for peaceful political resolutions to war." (Afghan girls polish shoes at a road side as the world observes Universal Children's Day in Kabul, Afghanistan, 20 November 2021. Photo: EPA/STRINGER) (ANSAmed).

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