The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/66/782-S/2012/261) issued on 26 April 2012.
The post-election crisis in early 2011 was directly associated with a rise in the commission of grave violations against children. The end of hostilities led to a subsequent decrease in the number of violations registered. However, some violations against children continued to be committed after the end of fighting, particularly in the west.
Cases of child recruitment and use were documented during the reporting period, and peaked during the post-election crisis. During the run up to the 2010 election, a worrying trend of involvement of children in campaigning activities and political demonstrations had been observed, which exposed them to violence and culminated in public statements and recruitment drives targeted at youth. Subsequently, between January and May 2011, many youths joined various armed groups, including the Jeunes patriotes and the Commando Invisible.
Thirty-seven cases of recruitment and use were verified by the country task forces on monitoring and reporting, although the total is believed to be higher. Children and youth participated in self-defence groups instituted by supporters of both sides. Children were seen manning checkpoints in collaboration with the Jeunes patriotes and elements of the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) in the period covering January to April 2011. The majority of children associated with armed groups during the crisis have been released, although their formal reintegration remains a challenge in the absence of a national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme during the reporting period. Since the end of hostilities in May 2011, no new cases of recruitment and use of children were reported.
The killing and maiming of children in crossfire and shelling peaked during the period between January and May 2011, mainly in Abidjan and in the west. A total of 42 cases of children killed and 66 of children maimed by armed elements were registered by the United Nations in 2011, although the number of actual cases is likely to be higher. In Abidjan, some cases were attributed to elements of the Forces de défense et de sécurité (FDS). Cases of maiming of children by explosive remnants of war have also been reported.
The prevalence of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children continued to be of great concern. A total of 271 cases of sexual violence were registered by the country task forces on monitoring and reporting, affecting 265 girls and 6 boys. Of these cases, 24 per cent were perpetrated by armed groups. For example, on 28 March 2011, a 16-year-old girl was gang-raped at gunpoint in her home by three FRCI elements in the Carrefour neighbourhood of Duekoue. The situation was particularly serious in the west where armed groups continued to enjoy freedom of movement and impunity. Victims are generally reluctant to file a complaint for fear of stigmatization and/or retaliation.
During the reporting period, a total of 477 schools were reported as being damaged, looted and/or used by armed groups, depriving an estimated 67,500 children of education. Of these cases, 23 schools were used, 3 of them as storage for weapons and 4 as collective graves. In addition, seven medical facilities were attacked. These incidents were mostly attributed to FRCI, especially in the west of the country. In addition, one case of military use of schools in the Yopougon neighbourhood of Abidjan by Liberian mercenaries and pro-Gbagbo elements, including the Jeunes patriotes, was reported.
In August, the Government ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The Government has also drafted a national strategy for the fight against gender-based violence. The document is still pending approval by the Ministry of Family, Women and Children.