By Robin Gomes
The United Nations children’s fund UNICEF has noted a 3-fold rise in verified attacks on children since the start of the decade. It has verified more than 170,000 grave violations against children in conflict, or an average of 45 violations a day, making it a “deadly decade” against children.
“Attacks on children continue unabated as warring parties flout one of the most basic rules of war: the protection of children,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore lamented on Monday. She noted that the number of countries experiencing conflicts has been the highest since the adoption of the convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.
With dozens of violent armed conflicts killing and maiming children and forcing them from their homes, the UNICEF chief said that for every act of violence against children that creates headlines and cries of outrage, “there are many more that go unreported.”
Fore deplore that “conflicts around the world are lasting longer, causing more bloodshed and claiming more young lives”.
In 2018, the UN verified more than 24,000 grave violations against children, including killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access, child recruitment and attacks on schools and hospitals.
While monitoring and reporting efforts have been strengthened, this number is more than two-and-a-half times higher than that recorded in 2010.
Attacks and violence against children have not let up throughout 2019. During the first half of the year, the UN has verified over 10,000 such violations against children – although actual numbers are likely to be much higher – in conflict zones from northern Syria to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and eastern Ukraine.
As 2019 draws to a close with “no let-up in the attacks and violence against children in sight,” UNICEF is calling on all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water infrastructure.
UNICEF is also calling on States with influence over parties in conflict to use their influence to protect children. (Source: UN News/UNICEF)