MIL-OSI United Nations: UN reports ‘shocking’ rise in violations against children in conflict in 2023

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Source: United Nations 2

Children were killed and maimed in unprecedented numbers in places such as Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, notably Gaza; Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Ukraine, his annual report on Children and Armed Conflict revealed. 

The alarming increase was due to the evolving nature, complexity, and intensification of armed conflict, as well as the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, the report said. 

UN chief ‘appalled’ 

The UN verified nearly 33,000 grave violations affecting more than 22,500 children, mainly boys, in 25 situations worldwide. 

The highest numbers were for killing and maiming, with 11,649 children affected – a 35 per cent increase over last year’s report.  This was followed by the recruitment and use of 8,655 children and the abduction of 4, 356 more. 

While more than half of the violations were committed by non-State armed groups, including those designated as terrorist by the UN, government forces were the main perpetrators of killings and injuries, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access. 

The conflict in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has led to a 155 per cent increase of grave violations against children, the report found. 

I am appalled by the dramatic increase and unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children in the Gaza Strip, Israel and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, despite my repeated calls for parties to implement measures to end grave violations,” Mr. Guterres wrote. 

Annual blacklist 

The annual report contains an annex of parties that commit grave violations. As has already been widely reported, for the first time, the Israeli armed and security forces were included for killing and injuring children and attacking schools and hospitals. 

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also added to the list for the first time for killing, wounding and abducting children.  

The report noted that the war in Sudan led to a “staggering” 480 per cent increase in grave violations.   

The Sudanese Army and rival military the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been battling for more than a year and both are on the blacklist for killing and maiming children and attacking schools and hospitals. 

The RSF also recruited and used children in addition to committing rape and other sexual violence against them. 

‘We are failing children’ 

Despite the multiplying and escalating crises detailed in the report, more than 10,600 children formerly associated with armed forces or groups received protection or reintegration support last year.  

The UN commenced or sustained engagement with parties to conflict in places such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. 

In some cases, this engagement led to the adoption of measures aimed at better protection for children.  

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the report is “a wake-up call”

“We are failing children,” she said. “I call on the international community to recommit to the universal consensus to protect children from armed conflict and I call on States to fulfil their primary responsibility to protect their populations and respect all norms and standards applicable in the conduct of armed conflict situations.” 

MIL OSI United Nations News