|At ‘Machel plus 10’ launch, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman (centre) is flanked by youth advocates Chernor Bah and Ishmael Beah, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy and UNFPA Deputy Director Mari Simonen.|
By Chris Niles
NEW YORK, 17 October 2007 – A new UN report highlights the devastating impact that dozens of low-level conflicts are having on the lives of millions of children around the world.
The Machel Study 10-Year Strategic Review by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, says the nature of warfare has changed in the past 10 years, with brutal consequences for children.
Major wars are being replaced by low-level, intra-country battles with less visibility and less humanitarian access, the review finds. Lines between civilians and combatants are blurring, and the new warfare encourages criminal activity and terrorism, it adds.
Launched today at events at UN headquarters in New York, the ‘Machel plus 10’ review is a follow-up to the landmark study on children and armed conflict issued more than a decade ago by the world body and authored by international children’s advocate Graça Machel.
|© UNICEF/2007/ Markisz|
|UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Radhika Coomaraswamy takes part in a panel presenting the youth report that was released along with her Machel review.|
More children targeted
“Threats to children are increasing,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “They are no longer just caught in the crossfire. They are increasingly the intended targets of violence, abuse and exploitation, victims of myriads of armed groups that prey on civilians.”
About 1,700 children from 92 countries contributed to the findings of a youth report that accompanied the strategic review. The report, ‘Will You Listen? Young Voices from the Conflict Zones’, includes firsthand accounts of the atrocities that children suffer during war and calls for more involvement of children in solving and healing from conflicts.
“It’s very important at every stage that children’s views are taken into consideration,” said former child soldier and youth advocate Ishmael Beah.
|© UNICEF/2007/ Markisz|
|Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks at the formal presentation of the Machel 10-year Strategic Review to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly.|
An end to impunity
The report asks UN members to do more to end impunity for criminal acts of war and to give high priority to the needs of all children affected by armed conflict – including making sure that their basic rights to education and health care are preserved.
As Ms. Veneman pointed out today, in 2006 more than 18 million children were displaced by war, and more than 43 million are out of school due to conflict.
“The international community has been very active in developing a solid legal protection framework,” added Ms. Coomaraswamy, “but much more must be done to ensure compliance, to fight impunity and to address all violations against children.”
Machel plus 10
Former child soldier reclaims his life in DR Congo [with video]
Trading guns for textbooks in Southern Sudan [with video]
Masika’s story: Child combatant recalls army life [with video]
Children and armed conflict: Graça Machel study 10-year strategic review
(external link, opens in a new window)