Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

New moves to help children caught up in armed conflict

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The UN resolution will help children like these in Uganda.

By  Jane O’Brien

NEW YORK, 26 August 2005 – The United Nations has passed a new resolution that could help protect the millions of children affected by armed conflict around the world. It will establish a working group to gather information on some of the worst violations of children’s rights during armed conflict and report directly to the Secretary-General. It also requires both governments and armed groups to come up with time-bound plans of action to end these grave violations.

“It’s very important to have credible information at the country level,” says UNICEF’s former Deputy Executive Director Karin Sham Poo, who has been appointed Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

“Organizations like UNICEF and NGOs really have information about what is happening. We need to use that information to make sure it is fully understood so that grave violations against children – in particular on the recruitment and use of child soldiers – stop.”

Since 2003 some 14 million children have been displaced by armed conflict. It is estimated that 300,000 children are currently being forced to fight or work for armed forces in more than 30 conflicts around the world. The UN’s new working group will focus on abuses inflicted on children by 54 parties to conflict in 11 countries.

Accountability needed

The new monitoring system will report on egregious abuses including killing and maiming of children, rape, forcing girls to join armed groups as sex slaves, and recruiting or using children as soldiers, messengers, cooks or porters. The working group will also report on attacks against schools and hospitals and abductions of children.

“I can assure you that my office will continue to be a very strong advocate to make sure that the offending parties stop these violations and understand that they cannot continue without something happening to them,” says Ms. Sham Poo.

All parties that deliberately target, abuse or exploit children during war must be held accountable, and the cloak of impunity must be lifted for all war crimes committed against children. UNICEF continues to urge governments to enact or enforce legislation to protect children affected by armed conflict. UNICEF also works with other partners and agencies to help such children return to their communities and rebuild their lives.


 

 

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26 August 2005:
Jane O’Brien reports on UN resolution to help children in armed conflict.

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