Conflicts and violence take 'huge toll' on children in 2015
Feb 16, Geneva: Increasingly complex and widening conflicts have taken a huge toll on children in much of the Middle East in 2015, with parts of Africa and Asia facing protracted and relapsing wars that show no signs of abating.
Describing in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council how extreme violence affected countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,
Senior United Nations child rights official Leila Zerrougui said, “Children were disproportionately affected, displaced and often the direct targets of acts of violence intended to cause maximum civilian casualties and terrorize entire communities,.
The report also found that military responses targeting groups using tactics of extreme violence continued to generate additional protection challenges for children. Throughout the year, militias and vigilante groups allied with States used children in support roles or as combatants. The use of airstrikes was also of particular concern due, in many instances, to their indiscriminate nature.
In the report, the Special Representative expressed her deep concern at the increasing number of attacks on schools, as well as military use of schools, in countries affected by war. Again in 2015, conflict disrupted the education of millions of children, creating a direct challenge to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring quality education for all children. Renewed conflict reversed most progress accomplished in South Sudan and Yemen.
In her report to the Human Rights Council, Ms. Zerrougui detailed how she used “every opportunity of engagement” with non-State armed groups and urges Governments to facilitate dialogue with a view to ending grave violations against children.
Among her recommendations, she encouraged Member States to treat children associated with armed groups primarily as victims and to use deprivation of liberty as a last resort and for the shortest time possible.
She also called for the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and for adequate resources to set up and maintain sustainable reintegration programmes for former child soldiers.
The Oslo Times