UNICEF today joined the Secretary-General’s call for an end to the recruitment and sexual exploitation of children by armed groups in theatres of conflict, at the Security Council discussion of the Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict.
“Millions of children around the world continue to be impacted by armed conflict,” said Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF Executive Director. “Adherence to international humanitarian law and respect for children’s rights must be strengthened.”
The Secretary-General’s report, in special annexes, identifies parties that recruit children in violation of applicable international law. This latest report recommends that groups that perpetrate sexual violence and other grave violations against children also be named in the annexes of future reports.
Grave violations, as defined in the report, are recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children.
While the report notes progress in releasing children from armed groups and armed forces, such as the release of more than 1200 children by armed groups in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, since the start of 2009, and of 342 children by armed groups in Burundi, it also documents violations by 56 parties to conflicts in 20 countries.
The report includes descriptions of incidents in 20 countries. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, the Lord’s Resistance Army has expanded its operations across various borders in the region and has abducted 300 children since November 2008. Attacks on schools are now frequent occurrences. In Afghanistan, teachers and particularly girl students have been targeted.
“In places like Afghanistan, schools have been attacked and teachers and particularly girl students have been targeted,” Veneman said. “Children remain the victims of wars of adults.”
UNICEF supports national child protection systems and conducts interventions such as interim care for released children, medical and psychosocial support, family reunification and reintegration, support for survivors of sexual violence and actions to strengthen national justice system and legislation relating to children.