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.
Although no exact figures are available, children continued to be victims of attacks by armed groups against Government officials, security forces and civilians in the four southern border provinces of Thailand: Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla. On 3 February 2011, for example, armed assailants reportedly opened fire on a group of civilians in Panare district, Pattani Province, killing five people and injuring four others, including a 12-year-old boy. In another incident, on 16 September 2011, three bombs exploded at 30-minute intervals in different public places in Sungai Kolok district, Narathiwat province, reportedly killing five civilians, including a 3-year-old girl, and injuring another 115 people. On 1 February 2011, members of a family in Rueso district, Yala Province, including a 15-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy, were reportedly executed by armed assailants.
During the reporting period, armed groups reportedly continued to carry out targeted attacks against schools, teachers and students, purportedly because they were perceived as a symbol of Government authority. The practice of having Government soldiers present on some school grounds in the southern border provinces to provide protection is also worrisome. On 28 September 2011, various sources reported that 18 members of a uniformed armed group attacked Ban Lamoh school in Rueso district, Narathiwat Province. The gunmen reportedly opened fire on soldiers waiting to escort teachers home, killing one 7-year-old child in the crossfire. In another incident, on 19 July 2011, three students were allegedly injured when a motorcycle bomb exploded in front of a school in Bannang Sata district, Yala Province.
Armed groups were also allegedly responsible for the killing of at least 31 Government teachers and educational personnel in the southern border provinces during 2011. All reported incidents follow a similar modus operandi characterized by a combination of hit-and-run attacks and the use of improvised explosive devices. On 15 January 2011, a teacher at Decha Pattayanukul in Muang district, Pattani Province, was reportedly killed in a drive-by shooting. In another case, on 25 July 2011, five teachers were reportedly injured in a bomb attack at the entrance of Ban Lamud School in Muang district, Yala Province.
Reports continue to indicate that children in the southern border provinces were targeted for recruitment by armed groups, and that these children were used in a variety of roles, including for intelligence gathering, diversion tactics and arson attacks. The United Nations has also received allegations of association of children with the Chor Ror Bor (village defence volunteers). These reports indicated that children were engaged by the Chor Ror Bor to patrol villages, man checkpoints and identify police suspects.
The Government of Thailand has taken positive action to protect children in the southern border provinces. The Government made increasing efforts to prevent the involvement of children with armed groups under the guidance of the Plan for the Development of the Five Southern Border Provinces Special Areas (2009-2012), as well as the Educational Development Plan in the Southern Border Provinces (2010-2012). It should also be noted that, on 19 April 2011, the Government amended its 2008 regulation on the Chor Ror Bor to explicitly prohibit the recruitment of children below 18 years of age. In addition, the United Nations has been informed that the Government is in the process of setting up a Subcommittee on the Protection and Development of Children and Youth to oversee and respond to the situation of children in the southern border provinces.
The United Nations country team in Thailand has informed my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict that it is not in a position to monitor, report or verify the aforementioned allegations of violations against children in the southern border provinces. It is therefore critical that the United Nations country team be granted such access to the southern border provinces that is necessary to independently verify and report on alleged violations against children in the region, as requested. I strongly encourage the Government of Thailand to strengthen cooperation with the country team to enable such access.