In the first six months of 2008, more than 50 children have been kidnapped in Haiti. Instances of rape and torture of kidnapped children have been reported and in some instances the victims have been murdered. The authorities suspect criminal gangs in search of easy profits are responsible for many recent kidnappings. Most of the perpetrators remain unpunished.
In Central African Republic, armed gangs have seized on the instability created by conflict to terrorize rural farms and communities, including by kidnapping children and holding them for ransom.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, thousands of children have been rounded up by armed groups and used as child soldiers or held in captivity as sexual slaves for extended periods of time.
In Iraq, UNICEF has received reports that a growing number of children have been recruited and used by militias and insurgent groups and that girls are increasingly subject to murder, kidnapping and rape, or are being abducted and trafficked within or outside Iraq for sexual exploitation.
These are just some examples of reports that UNICEF is receiving.
It is everyone’s duty to ensure children are safe from harm, and governments have a responsibility to enact and enforce measures that provide a protective environment for all children.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information, contact: Geoffrey Keele, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-212-326-7583