New York, 1 July – In 2013, children were recruited and used, killed and maimed, victims of sexual violence and other grave violations in 23 conflict situations around the world. These are some of the findings unveiled today in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.
“We have documented the cases of children recruited and used by 7 national armies and 50 armed groups fighting wars in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, and in 11 other countries.” said Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. “But there is also progress to report. No violations were recorded in Chad in 2013 and the country’s National Army has fulfilled all the requirements of its action plan. They are no longer on the list for recruitment and use of children.”
The extremist group Boko Haram is included as a new party on the list of the Secretary-General for killing and maiming as well as attacks against schools and hospitals.
“Boko Haram continues to commit unspeakable violence against children and I am deeply concerned by the fate of the numerous girls abducted in the past few months,” said Leila Zerrougui. “The listing is part of the broader response of the United Nations and the international community to tackle the violence by the group.”
Renewed conflict and ongoing crises
Children growing up in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and elsewhere continued to suffer the consequences of conflict. The year 2013 was marked by an increase in the number of children killed or mutilated in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. The recruitment of children in the Central African Republic (CAR) was systematic and child rights were violated by all parties to the conflict in total impunity.
Syria remained one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child. Again in 2013, the United Nations documented widespread violations. In South Sudan, the conflict that erupted in December 2013 erased most of the progress achieved to protect children since the country’s independence.
The major crises of 2013 are continuing this year. A new one, in Iraq, is taking an extremely worrying turn. The recent advances by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have created an extremely volatile and dangerous situation for children. The Special Representative is receiving disturbing reports of recruitment and other grave violations against children that require immediate action.
“What is common to most of these conflict situations is that child rights are violated in total impunity,” Zerrougui said. “If we are serious about protecting children, we must demand accountability.”
Attacks against schools and hospitals
Attacks against schools and hospitals are on the rise and parties to the conflict are now listed in Afghanistan, CAR, DRC, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria. In May 2014, the Special Representative issued a joint guidance note with UNICEF, UNESCO and WHO to strengthen the United Nations’ capacity to report, advocate and engage in dialogue with perpetrators to put a stop to these violations.
Children, not Soldiers
The campaign Children, Not Soldiers, launched in March 2014 by the Special Representative and UNICEF is generating positive momentum to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government security forces by 2016.
Chad’s national forces have implemented all the measures included in the Action Plan signed with the UN and are no longer listed. In May, Yemen signed its own Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children.
A week ago, the Government of South Sudan committed to ending grave violations against children and to restart the implementation of the Action Plan signed in 2012 to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. In May, the SPLM/A in Opposition, led by former Vice-President Riek Machar, signed a commitment to end the recruitment and use and other grave violations against children.
“Seven out of eight countries involved in the campaign are now formally engaged in a process to turn the page on the recruitment and use of children in their national security forces,” said the Special Representative. “We now have the duty to come together and support these countries to ensure their commitment is followed by actions that will make a real difference in children’s lives.”
Note to editors:
The 2013 annual report covers 23 situations. Fifty-nine parties to conflict are listed for grave violations against children in the annexes of the report, including 51 armed groups and eight armed forces in 15 country situations.
Access the Annual report here: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=a/68/878
For questions or interview requests, please contact:
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Tel: +1 212 963-8285
Mobile: +1 917 288-5791