Last year, nearly 2,700 children died in armed conflicts around the world. More than 8.5 thousand minors have been used as soldiers, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres reports in the annual report to the Security Council. “ This is an opportunity to stop and reflect on the suffering we are inflicting on our children who are our future, ” said Virginia Gamba of the United Nations
The report covers the killing, mutilation and sexual exploitation of children, the abduction or recruitment, denial of access to aid, and attacks on schools and hospitals. The document stated that 19,379 children were violated in 21 conflicts around the world. The most violations in 2020 were committed in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.
Last year, 8,521 children were used as soldiers, while 2,674 children were killed and 5,748 were injured in various conflicts.
The report also includes a blacklist to embarrass conflicting parties in hopes of forcing them to adopt child protection measures, reports Reuters. The list has long been controversial, with diplomats saying Saudi Arabia and Israel have put pressure in recent years not to be on it.
Adult wars took the childhood of millions of boys and girls again in 2020
Israel has never been included on the list, while the Saudi-led military coalition was removed from it in 2020, a few years after it was first mentioned for the killing of children in Yemen.
To quell the controversy surrounding the report, the 2017 blacklist by Guterres was split into two categories. On one hand, it lists the parties that have introduced child protection measures, and the other, the parties that have not.
There were not many significant changes in the lists released on Monday. The only parties that did not implement these measures are the Burmese junta for killing, mutilating and sexual violence against children, and the Syrian government forces for child recruiting, killing, mutilating and sexual violence against children, and attacks on schools and hospitals.
“We need hope”
“Adult wars have taken the childhood of millions of boys and girls again in 2020,” said Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict. As she said, the report is “an opportunity to stop and reflect on the suffering we inflict on our children who are our future.”
– We must provide children with an alternative to violence and abuse. We need peace, respect for children’s rights and democracy. We need hope for good leadership. We must work to build a future of peace. Please, let’s give this alternative to the children, appealed Gamba.
Main photo source: Koene tone / DPA / PAP