The latest report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/77/895 S/2023/363), presents a grim picture of 2022. It highlighted that 27,180 grave violations against 18,890 children were verified by the United Nations in 2022, including 8,631 children either killed or maimed, 7,622 children recruited and used, and 3,985 children abducted. These three violations remained the ones verified at the highest levels, which all increased in 2022. Yet these numbers only represent a fraction of the actual numbers of violations experienced by children across the globe. Figures highlighted also that the main perpetrators of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access were the armed and security forces of Governments. Governments whose primary responsibility is to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructures. Despite a large endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration, 2022 faced an unprecedented number of attacks on schools and hospitals with a 110 per cent increase compared to the year before.
“The disregard for the protection of civilian infrastructures, such as schools and hospitals, often translated by a lack of distinction between civilian and military targets and/or a continued military use by warring parties is deeply troubling. The use of explosive weapons, including those with wide impact area, notably in populated areas became one of the main causes of the destruction of schools and hospitals as well as the deaths and injuries of children. This impact is amplified by the long-lasting presence of these explosive ordnance on the ground.” cautioned the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms. Virginia Gamba.
As we learn from 2022 and seek to improve child protection and prevention efforts, violations are already mounting at an alarming state, in various countries on the children and armed conflict agenda. Among others, the escalating conflicts in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Myanmar, Sudan, and Ukraine have become a major source of concern and a significant threat to the well-being and future of children caught in these conflicts.
‘“We urgently need bold and resolute action. We must build on the international consensus on child protection and rally behind the instruments that have already been agreed upon widely as well as the respect of international law. I urge all of you to embrace peace and peaceful resolution of conflicts, which remains the only sustainable way to reduce and prevent violations against children.” she added.
Member States have the primary responsibility to protect, respect, and fulfill children’s rights, both in times of peace and in times of war. Whatever their age, gender, or status; whatever country they live in; or wherever they come from, all children must be protected from the consequences of an armed conflict. Compliance with obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law which include a responsibility to refrain from targeting civilians must be respected by all parties to conflict everywhere, including for and foremost by armed forces.
For additional information, please contact:
Ariane Lignier, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / firstname.lastname@example.org
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