Ecuador: Homicide rate among children and adolescents soars 640 per cent in four years - UNICEF

Rising violence is putting more children at risk and depriving hundreds of thousands from access to social services.

15 January 2024
A girl waits in a line of people waiting to enter Ecuador.

PANAMA CITY/NEW YORK, 12 January 2024 – At least 770 child and adolescent homicides were recorded in Ecuador in 2023, a drastic increase of 640 percent from 104 cases in 2019, according to the latest estimates by the local Ministry of Interior.

This alarming spike in deaths by armed violence continues to severely impact the lives of children and young people in Ecuador.

"Over the past months, child and adolescent fatalities have skyrocketed due to a dramatic increase of crime in several parts of Ecuador. Forced recruitment of adolescents by armed groups is also reportedly on the rise, and medical health facilities and schools are under siege," said Garry Conille, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "Widescale disruption to basic services in areas controlled by armed groups is not only putting more children at risk of being recruited but also cutting off access to health, education, and protection for hundreds of thousands of others.”

In addition to children, the rising number of medical staff, teachers and school principals being threatened, extorted and killed by armed groups is also alarming.

With the security situation worsening, the temporary closure of schools across the country has further deprived over 4.3 million children of adequate education services.

“UNICEF is ready to support the authorities for the reopening of schools as soon as the conditions improve, and remains committed to supporting the Ecuadorian government, communities, and families,” said Conille.

In Ecuador, UNICEF is dedicated to building protective environments for children and adolescents, particularly in vulnerable areas. This involves empowering youth with skills in conflict resolution and violence prevention, supporting educators, and establishing support centers offering psychosocial and legal services. 

Collaborating with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF enhances the "Safe Schools Plan" for violence prevention and mental health support. Additionally, our teams on the ground are working together with local partners to strengthen child protection systems and advocates for improved juvenile justice.

UNICEF is urging all parties to ensure children and adolescents of Ecuador are protected from armed violence at all times and regain access to basic social services such as health, protection, and education.


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