Grave violations against children remained ‘alarmingly’ high in 2020, over 19,000 children affected: UN report
Over 19,300 children, including boys and girls, suffered from one or more incidents of grave violations against them in 2020, according to the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) released by the United Nations (UN) on Monday. The report also noted that 26,425 grave violations were committed against children last year, including attacks on schools and hospitals.
“More than 19,300 children affected by war last year were victims of grave violations such as killing, maiming or rape. Girls and boys have a right to life and health, free from violence and despair. We must protect them at all costs,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a tweet on Tuesday.
In its report, the global body also said that the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming were the most prevalent grave violations against children followed by denial of humanitarian access and abduction. While crimes of abduction grew by 90% in 2020, incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence increased by 70%, the report also said.
“The wars of adults have taken away the childhood of millions of boys and girls again in 2020. This is completely devastating for them, but also for the entire communities they live in, and destroys chances for a sustainable peace,” CAAC special representative Virginia Gamba said. “We can’t erase the past, but we can collectively work at re-building the future of these children, our own future; by putting the willpower, the efforts and the resources to end and prevent grave violations against children, and by supporting their sustainable reintegration and building a future free from conflict for all,” Gamba further added.
According to the report, one in four children affected by grave violations were girls, the report said. Girls were most affected by rape and other forms of sexual violence with 98% of incidents of sexual violence perpetrated against girls. “If boys and girls experience conflict differently and require interventions to better address their specific needs, what the data also showed is that conflict doesn’t differentiate based on gender,” Gamba said.
The report also noted that the Covid-19 pandemic further complicated the UN’s efforts to reach out to children in situations of armed conflict. “The pandemic increased the vulnerability of children to abduction, recruitment and use, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals, while isolation and measures put in place to combat the pandemic also complicated the work of United Nations child protection monitors and experts,” the report noted.