The United Nations announced on Monday it will start monitoring the war in Ukraine and conflicts in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Africa’s central Sahel region for violations against children, including killings, injuries, recruitment, rape and other forms of sexual violence.
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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his annual report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict that those four new conflicts have been added to 21 conflicts that the U.N. already is monitoring for violations of the rights of children. He said the latter conflicts saw “a high number of grave violations” in 2021.
The U.N. chief said the protection of children was severely affected by escalating conflicts, the multiplication of armed groups, land mines and improvised explosive devices, explosive weapons in populated areas, intensified humanitarian crises, and violations of humanitarian and human rights law.
Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special envoy for children and armed conflict, said at a news conference that “forays of extremely violent armed groups, military coups and instability, and violent electoral processes in fragile states, left 19,100 child victims of grave violations during 2021 in the 21 country and regional situations we monitored.”
The U.N. said it verified nearly 24,000 “grave violations” against children in 2021, including over 1,300 committed previously.
The highest numbers of violations last year were the 2,515 killings and 5,555 injuries involving children, followed by the recruitment and use of 6,310 youngsters in conflicts, the report said.
Last year, it said, the number of child abductions rose by over 20% and cases of sexual violence against children continued to rise, also by over 20%.
The highest number of “grave violations” verified by the U.N. were in Afghanistan, Congo, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, it said.
Mr. Guterres said in the report that Ukraine was being added to the monitoring effort “because of the high intensity of this conflict” and in view of the violations against civilians, including children. He asked Ms. Gamba to urgently engage with all parties to address the protection of children and prevention of violations against them.
He said Mozambique was being added because of “the gravity and number of violations reported,” including recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and abductions.
The U.N. chief said Ethiopia was being added in view of “the gravity of clashes in 2021” between government forces and police, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and other parties including militias and regional forces. He cited violence against children including killings, rapes, sexual attacks, abductions and attacks on schools.
The U.N. sanctions blacklist in the report adds some new armed groups, including the dissident Colombian group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army for recruiting and using children and Burkina Faso’s militant group Jama Nusrat Ul-Islam wa Al-Muslimin for grave violations.