Last year was the worst on record for children trapped in regions where armed conflict rages, and it saw the highest numbers of children killed or maimed since the United Nations began keeping records on them, the UN said in a new report.
The Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, released Tuesday, found more than 12,000 such children caught up in the 20 conflicts the UN monitored.
The numbers also include cases of child soldiers, with Somalia and Nigeria – along with Syria – the national leaders with some 7,000 children affected globally. Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo showed some positive trends for peace and reintegration but still were found with grave violations against children.
Mali offers “the most serious example of children being deprived of access to education,” the UN said, noting that 827 schools were closed at the end of December, barring the doors to education for nearly a quarter-million students.
There were more than 900 cases of sexual abuse, though the UN believes the number is undercounted.
“It is immensely sad that children continue to be disproportionately affected by armed conflict, and it is horrific to see them killed and maimed as a result of hostilities,” said Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. “Parties to conflict must protect children and put in place tangible measures to end and prevent these violations.”
The report was released ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the issue, planned for Friday. It is available, with complete country listings, at this link.
Image: UN File Photo/Isaac Billy