At least 5,242 girls and 13,663 boys were victims of grave violations in 21 country situations and one region, and at least 1,600 of those children were victims of multiple violations, the report highlights. It adds that overall, there were 23,982 verified grave violations against children, a number that remains similar to that reported in 2020 and represents an average of some 65 violations every single day.
The year 2021 saw a deadly mix of conflict escalation, military coups
and takeovers, protracted and new conflicts, as well as violations of
international law, all of which had a devastating impact on the
protection of children around the world.
Cross-border conflict and
intercommunal violence also impacted the protection of children,
especially in the Lake Chad Basin and Central Sahel regions, according to the annual UN report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC),
released on Monday. The report details the devastating impact that various forms of
conflict had on children around the world in 2021.
At least 5,242 girls and 13,663 boys were victims of grave violations in 21 country situations and one region, and
at least 1,600 of those
children were victims of multiple violations, the report highlights. It
adds that overall, there were 23,982 verified grave violations against
children, a number that remains similar to that reported in 2020 and
represents an average of some 65 violations every
killing and maiming of children was the most verified grave violation
followed by the recruitment and use of children and the denial of
humanitarian access. The places where most children were affected by grave
violations in 2021 were Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC), Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Somalia, Syria, and
For 15 per cent of those violations, perpetrators could not be
identified, making subsequent accountability extremely challenging.
“There is no word strong enough to describe the horrific conditions
that children in armed conflict have endured. Those who survived will be
affected for life with deep physical and emotional scars. But we must
not let these numbers discourage our efforts. They should serve as an
impetus to reinforce our determination to end and prevent grave
violations against children,” said
the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and
Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.
Gamba explained that boys and girls often face different
risks, a factor it is important to understand when developing prevention and
Mozambique and Ukraine have been added to the Secretary-General Annual Report
as situations of concern, reflecting the dramatic impact of hostilities on children
in the area. Ukraine is among new areas of concern. Two forms of violation showed a sharp increase in 2021:
abduction, and sexual violence, including rape, which both rose by 20 per cent.
Attacks on schools and hospitals also showed an increase,
which was compounded by the pandemic. More than 2,800 children were detained
for their actual or alleged association with parties to conflicts, making them
particularly vulnerable to torture, sexual violence, and other abuses.
Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Ukraine have been added to the
Secretary-General Annual Report as situations of concern, reflecting the
dramatic impact of hostilities on children in these areas.
In addition, the Secretary-General requested enhanced
monitoring of violations against children in the Central Sahel Region, similar
to his request for the Lake Chad Basin region in 2020.
Amidst the catalogue of violations, progress was made in
some regions. Overall, 12,214 children were released from armed forces and
groups in countries including the Central African Republic, Colombia, DRC,
Myanmar, and Syria.
The Special Representative outlined the importance of
providing children released from armed forces and groups with appropriate
support to reintegrate into their communities.
“Parties engaged in peace processes and discussions should
consider integrating the rights and needs of children into their negotiations
as well as their final agreements, as it remains the only way to reach a
sustainable peace”, continued Ms Gamba, hailing the current truce in Yemen’s
conflict as an example.
“When peace goes missing, children are the first to pay the
price of this tragic loss”, she declared. “It is more critical than ever to act
to protect our children and ensure their safer and better future”.