In the midst of gunfire and shelling, Syrian children seek refuge in a doorway of a home in a conflict-affected city. According to a new report released on Tuesday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), between 2005 and 2020, the United Nations confirmed more than 266,000 grave crimes against children in more than 30 war zones throughout the world.
The investigation showed that warring parties in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa have all violated children.
The report found that, among the violations, over 104,100 children were confirmed to have been killed or injured in armed conflict between 2005 and 2020, over 93,000 children were confirmed to have been recruited and used by conflict parties, and at least 25,700 children were confirmed to have been abducted by conflict parties.
The report, “25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to safeguard children in war,” presented global and historical trends of grave violations while illuminating the effects of armed conflict on children.
The analysis indicated that since 2005, the number of verified breaches has steadily climbed. It also noted that between 2016 and 2020, the daily global average of verified grave violations was an alarming 71.
In a news release, UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell stated, “This study lays out in the starkest possible terms the world’s inability to protect its children from severe atrocities during times of armed conflict.”
Grave violations rip apart the social fabric, making it harder to reestablish and maintain peace, security, and stability. They also wreak havoc on children, families, and communities. We must reject the idea that crimes against children are an inevitable side effect of conflict, said Russell.
The UNICEF report makes recommendations on how to better respond to and care for children affected by conflict, as well as how to disaggregate and analyze data more effectively for improved response and prevention.
The study also urged nations and parties to conflicts to uphold their responsibilities under international human rights and humanitarian law.