Conflicts and Child Abuse

35

Thousands of children around the world are enduring “horrific conditions,”. The annual report of the United Nations on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) showed that there are nearly 24,000 verified grave violations against children. That equates to an average of 65 violations per day. The killing and maiming of children was the most verified grave violation followed by the recruitment and use of children and the denial of humanitarian access. The places where most children were affected by grave violations in 2021 were Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Israel and the Israeli-Occupied Palestinian Territory, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. There is no word strong enough to describe the horrific conditions that children in armed conflict have endured. Those who survived will be affected for life with deep physical and emotional scars. But we must not let these numbers discourage our efforts. They should serve as an impetus to reinforce our determination to end and prevent grave violations against children. This report is a call to action to intensify our work to better protect children in armed conflict and ensure that they are given a real chance to recover and thrive. Two forms of violation showed a sharp increase in 2021: abduction, and sexual violence, including rape, which both rose by 20 per cent. Attacks on schools and hospitals also showed an increase, which were compounded by the pandemic. More than 2,800 children were detained for their actual or alleged association with parties to conflict, making them particularly vulnerable to torture, sexual violence, and other abuses. Amidst the catalogue of violations, progress was made in some regions. Overall, 12,214 children were released from armed forces and groups in countries including the Central African Republic, Colombia, DRC, Myanmar, and Syria. Parties engaged in peace processes and discussions should consider integrating the rights and needs of children into their negotiations as well as their final agreements, as it remains the only way to reach a sustainable peace.

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