The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Virginia Gamba, says that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recorded the highest number of violations against children in 2022.
Gamba disclosed this while unveiling the secretary-general’s latest annual report for 2022 at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
She told newsmen that the report showed that there were 27,180 grave violations overall, an increase from the previous year.
She said that other countries that recorded high number of violations against children were Israel, the State of Palestine, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Yemen.
According to her, violations of international law regarding children and armed conflict continued to have a “devastating impact” with a 112 per cent rise in the number of attacks on schools and hospitals.
“The recorded violations only refer to verified information, with the likely toll much higher, and covering four categories: recruitment and use of children into armed groups or forces, killing and maiming, rape and sexual violence, and abduction.
“Two-thirds of violations involved boys, spanning 24 different conflict situations.
“A total of 8,831 children were killed or maimed, and another 7,622 were recruited by armed groups or forces,” she said.
Gamba said that the monitoring and verification of grave violations remained extremely challenging, including owing to access constraints leading to the underreporting of such violations and an increase in violations verified in 2022.
She said the countries where “the worst deterioration” occurred are Myanmar, South Sudan, and Burkina Faso.
In addition, Gamba described the widespread military use of schools both by armed forces and armed groups as “a very worrisome trend”, calling for them to remain “zones of peace”.
She said nearly 2,500 children were detained, a practice that should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest period.
Gamba said that Russian forces and affiliated armed groups in Ukraine were being added to the annex of the report as notable offenders, for the number of attacks on hospitals and schools carried out during the invasion.
She added that they were also being added for the killing of children during military operations.
Russia’s use of rocket systems, airstrikes, and shelling of populated areas had resulted in very high casualties, she said, adding that her engagement with Moscow to introduce measures to decrease attacks would continue.
She said that the Ukrainian armed forces had also received a warning from the UN secretary-general through the report owing to attacks carried out on schools and hospitals during the war.
The UN top official stressed that even defensive responses needed to accord with international humanitarian law, and she commended the progress made by the Ukrainian Government to make improvements.
The Special Representative said Israel and the State of Palestine would not be added to the global list of offenders, emphasising that a warning not to repeat the urban assault on Gaza in May 2021 and retaliatory missile launches had been heeded sufficiently.
She said there had been an important decrease in Israeli airstrikes during 2022, noting that the whole purpose of publishing the report and highlighting violence was to change behaviour and strengthen protection. (NAN)