Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, made the appeal in her presentation Annual report to the United Nations General Assembly, which covers the period from August 2020 to July 2021.
The report identifies wide ranges of grave violations against children, the most widespread of which are recruitment and use in hostilities, killing, maiming, and denial of humanitarian access.
Last year, the United Nations verified 26,425 grave violations against more than 19,370 children. Most of them were males, and the number of victims or survivors was 14,097, while the number of girls was 4,993. In 289 cases the gender was unknown.
Overall, 8,521 children have been recruited or used by parties to the conflict, mainly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria and Myanmar. while. Some 8,400 young people were killed or maimed, and Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Somalia remain the deadliest conflicts for children.
Landmines still exist
According to the report, the ongoing killing and maiming of children due to landmines, improvised explosive devices and other explosive weapons and remnants of war remains of particular concern.
“Member states must sign and implement existing international legal instruments relating to these weapons and promote mine clearance and mine risk education,” She said Mrs. Gamba.
“More broadly, they should adopt and implement legislation criminalizing all violations against children as well as promoting accountability to end cultures of impunity and prevent such crimes from occurring in the future,” She added.
The pandemic increases the risks
The report found that closing schools and child-friendly spaces due to the pandemic, and loss of family income, increased the risk of child recruitment and use, sexual abuse, exploitation, and forced marriage.
Ms. Gamba urged the international community to protect health care facilities and schools, with a particular focus on protecting girls’ education.
“Children affected by the conflict have been the most affected by the pandemic, and therefore their needs must be at the heart of any COVID-19 recovery plan She said.
“Child protection activities and services must be considered life-saving, and in this regard, I call on Member States to continue providing significant political support and funding to ensure their continuity,” stressed.
Continue to share
Despite the pandemic restrictions, Ms Gamba continued to engage with parties to the conflict during the reporting period, albeit in practice, and to provide support to United Nations child protection staff in the field.
The result was At least 35 new commitments signed or adopted by the warring parties In the past year alone, such as command orders, updated action plans and mitigation measures during military operations.
Furthermore, continued engagement with countries, United Nations entities, and international, regional and subregional organizations, among others, has helped intensify advocacy efforts to end grave violations against children.
For example, Ms. Gamba and her office continued to lead the Global Coalition for the Reintegration of Child Soldiers, an initiative launched in 2018 along with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, which published three brief papers last year.
Translate promise into action
This latest report to the General Assembly was released with the UN mandate on children and armed conflict turning 25, highlighting the urgent need to prioritize the protection of children caught up in war.
It points to areas of enhanced action, such as the inclusion of dedicated child protection provisions and capabilities in relevant mandates for United Nations field operations, namely peacekeeping and special political missions.
Ms. Gamba also highlighted priorities to enhance the mandate’s impact, including data analysis and management for early identification and response to serious violations.
“The twenty-fifth anniversary of the mandate for children and armed conflict must be seen as an opportunity for Member States to renew their commitment to protecting boys and girls from hostilities and to effectively translate their promises into action, including by joining theWorking to protect children affected by conflict She said “.