Grave abuses against children are being committed in, among others, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic (CAR) and their rights are being violated in conflict situations with total impunity.
These claims were made by Leila Zerrougui, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on children and armed conflict when she presented Ban Ki-moon’s annual report on children and armed conflict to the world body.
According to the report children were recruited and used, killed and maimed and became victims of sexual violence and other “grave violations” in 23 country situations last year. It has documented cases of children recruited and used by seven national armies and 50 armed groups fighting wars in the CAR, South Sudan, Syria and 11 other countries.
“What is common to most of these conflict situations it that children’s rights are violated with total impunity. If we are serious about protecting children we must demand accountability,” she said.
A new party appearing on the Secretary-General’s list of perpetrators is the extremist group Boko Haram, responsible for “unspeakable violence against children” in Nigeria, including killing and maiming as well as attacks against schools and hospitals.
The report also notes recruitment of children in the CAR was “systematic” and child rights violations were committed by all parties to the conflict in total impunity.
“In 2014, the children of CAR continue to face unspeakable violence, a deadly mix of attacks and retaliation motivated by religion, a worsening humanitarian crisis and complete lack of law and order continues to plague the country,” Zerrougui said at UN headquarters in New York.
The report also points out attacks against schools and hospitals are on the rise, including in Afghanistan, CAR, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria.
She also noted there was progress to report. No violations were recorded in Chad in 2013 and the country’s national army has fulfilled all the requirements of its action plan and is no longer on the list for recruitment and use of children.