The annual United Nations (UN) report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), released on July 11th, outlines the obliterating impact that various forms of conflicts had on children across the globe in 2021.
The horrors mentioned in the report range from conflict escalation, military coups and takeovers, to protracted and new conflicts. Violations of international laws, cross-border conflicts, and intercommunal violence have had devastating impacts on children and the protection of children.
Furthermore, the annual report has also verified the recruitment and use of 6,310 children in conflicts around the world in 2021. In addition, it discusses other violations such as kidnapping, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denying aid during conflicts.
According to the statistics in the report, approximately 24,000 verified grave violations against children took place, which means an average of more than 60 violations per day.
Killing and maiming, followed by recruitment and use of children in conflicts and denial of aid during conflict, were among the most verified grave violations against children.
In addition, the places where the highest numbers of verified violations against children occurred in 2021 were Afghanistan, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Syria, Israel, Somalia, and the Palestinian Territories.
The United Nations Secretary-General said that the next annual report would include verified violations against children in Ukraine, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.
“There is no word strong enough to describe the horrific conditions that children in armed conflict have endured,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.
“Those who survived will be affected for life with deep physical and emotional scars. But we must not let these numbers discourage our efforts. This should serve as an impetus to reinforce our determination to the end and prevent grave violations against children. This report is a call to action to intensify our work to better protect children in armed conflict and ensure that they are given a real chance to recover and thrive,” she added.
She further explained that boys and girls often face different dangers and emphasized that these gender dimensions are vital factors to understand while developing prevention and aid strategies.
Progress or a ray of hope
Amidst the harrowing findings of 2021, progress was made in some of the regions. Overall, 12,214 children were released from armed forces and groups in countries including the Central African Republic, Colombia, DRC, Myanmar, and Syria. (UN News)
The Special Representative further emphasizes the importance of providing children released from armed forces and groups with appropriate support to help them to reintegrate into their communities.
“When peace goes missing, children are the first to pay the price for this tragic loss.” “Peace must prevail as it is the only sustainable way to end and prevent grave violations against children in the armed conflict,” she added.