More than 10,000 children were either killed or maimed in conflicts last year while more than 8,000 youngsters were recruited or used as combatants, the United Nations reported states as war and violence continue to grapple several regions of the world including Afghanistan.
According to the UN report, these violations contributed to an overall rise in the number of children globally affected by fighting in 2017, as documented in the annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General António Guterres has expressed deep concerns over the numbers children caught in violence and wars.
“Boys and girls have once again been overly impacted by protracted and new violent crisis. Despite some progress, the level of violations remains unacceptable,” said Guterres.
“The Secretary-General reiterates that the best way to address this horrific situation is to promote peaceful solutions to conflicts. He calls on all parties to exert maximum efforts in this regard.”
The report covers 20 countries, including hotspots such as Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, but also situations in countries such as India, the Philippines and Nigeria.
Based on the report, conflict-related violence continued to severely affect children throughout Afghanistan, with 3,179 verified cases of children killed and maimed in 2017. Although the number of verified cases represents a 10 percent decrease in verified cases compared to 2016, casualty rates remain very high.
The UN states that it has verified the recruitment and use of 84 boys and documented an additional 643 cases (all boys). Children were recruited and used for combat, as bodyguards, at checkpoints, to assist in intelligence gathering and to plant improvised explosive devices. When recruited by armed groups, children were also used to carry out suicide attacks, the report says.
“Almost three quarters of the verified cases were perpetrated by armed groups (61), with 40 cases attributed to the Taliban, 19 to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant Khorasan Province (Daesh) and 2 to undetermined armed groups. Cases attributed to ISIL-KP (Daesh) almost doubled in the reporting period. A total of 23 boys were recruited and used by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (Afghan National Police, 11; Afghan Local Police, 9; other Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, 3). The cases predominantly included the informal use of children, including as guards at checkpoints,” the report says.
“As at December 2017, the Government reported that 171 children were held in juvenile rehabilitation centers on national security-related charges. On 7 November, 50 juveniles were transferred from the adult maximum-security detention facility in Parwan to the juvenile rehabilitation center in Kabul, following sustained United Nations advocacy. However, following a reassessment of their age, in December 21 of them were moved back to the detention facility in Parwan and 25 were reassigned elsewhere,” the report reads.
“In Yemen, a coalition backed by the United States and led by Saudi Arabia was responsible for more than 1,300 child deaths or injuries recorded in 2017. The Saudis quickly disputed that conclusion,” said the report.
In Syria, where a civil war has dragged on for seven years, more human rights abuses against children were recorded than ever before.
The number of children recruited for armed violence quadrupled in the Central African Republic and doubled in the Democratic Republic of Congo, compared with 2016.
The report also verified 3,179 child casualties (861 killed and 2,318 injured), including 251 girls, accounting for 30 per cent of all civilian casualties. Overall, the leading causes were ground engagements (45 per cent), followed by incidents involving improvised explosive devices (17 per cent) and unexploded ordnance (16 per cent)
Overall, the UN verified more than 21,000 grave violations of children’s rights across the world between January and December 2017, compared with 15,500 the previous year.