Geneva Palais briefing note on the launch of UNICEF’s report ‘25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war’
This is a summary of what was said by Tasha Gill, UNICEF’s Senior Advisor, Child Protection in Emergencies – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
GENEVA, 28 June 2022 - "Good morning. It is a pleasure to be with you.
"Today UNICEF is launching an important new report ‘25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war’. This report coincides with the 25th year of the mandate of the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict.
"Our report analyses sixteen years of data on grave rights violations committed against children in conflict situations, from 2005 to 2020, to show the impact of armed conflict on children across the world and over time. To give just some sense of the magnitude of the problem: in one decade alone - from 2010 to 2020, there was an increase of 185% of verified grave rights violations committed against children in conflict situations.
"The report examines how information on the documented patterns of grave violations is being used to respond to children’s needs. It examines how engagement with parties to conflict – State and non-State actors alike – enables ending and preventing child rights grave violations.
"Our analysis shows that despite decades of advocacy with parties to conflict and those who influence them —as well as enhanced monitoring, reporting and response mechanisms for grave rights violations—children continue to bear the brunt of war. Every day, girls and boys living in areas under conflict endure unspeakable horrors that no one should ever experience.
"I would like to share with you some key findings from the report:
"Between 2005 and 2020, the United Nations verified over a quarter of a million grave violations against children committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. This is a staggering average of 71 verified grave violations against children every day.
"This includes more than 104,000 children verified as killed or maimed; more than 93,000 children verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict; and at least 25,700 children verified as abducted by parties to conflict.
"In addition, parties to conflict have raped, forcibly married, sexually exploited, and committed other grave forms of sexual violence against at least 14,200 children. And the UN has verified almost 14,000 incidents of attacks against schools and hospitals.
"I must emphasize, these figures are a fraction of the violations believed to have occurred, as access and security constraints hamper the reporting, documentation and verification of grave violations.
"What’s more, it’s important to underline the annual number of verified violations has gradually increased since 2005, surpassing 20,000 in a year for the first time in 2014 and reaching 26,425 in 2020.
"Between 2016 and 2020, 82 per cent of all verified child casualties occurred in only five situations: Afghanistan, Israel and the State of Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.
"It is also important to note that many children experience more than one violation, increasing their vulnerability. For example, abduction is often combined with or leads to other violations, like recruitment and use and sexual violence.
"As part of the report’s recommendations, UNICEF continues to call on parties to conflict listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict to engage with the United Nations to develop and implement Action Plans that establish sustainable and concrete measures to protect children from violations and their impact. These Action Plans can play a critical role in bringing about positive change for children.
"In addition to calling on parties to conflict, and states, to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, the report includes recommendations on providing care and response services for children, data collection and aggregation, and monitoring.
"UNICEF staff, in collaboration with other UN and partner organizations, judiciously collect and verify information on grave violations so that we can better understand and respond to the needs of children and surviving families. We also engage those responsible for violations, with the concrete goal of preventing and putting a stop to further violations.
"These efforts have achieved concrete results for children. For example, since the year 2000, at least 170,000 children have been released from armed forces and groups, many having survived multiple violations – including abduction or sexual violence.
"There are many children who still need our help. That is why we must continue to collect these stories, even amidst dangerous circumstances. And that is why we must also continue speaking up and speaking out, especially when children, families or witnesses are unable to do so.