UNICEF Regional Director condemns growing violence in the central Sahel, grave violations against children up by 70 per cent

Statement by the UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Gilles Fagninou

28 May 2024

DAKAR, Senegal, 29 May 2024 – “The distressing rise in violent incidents in the central Sahel region of West Africa (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger), including the killing of children, must stop if children are to realise their basic rights to life under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“In the last three months of 2023, grave violations against children in the central Sahel increased by more than 70 per cent compared with the previous three months. The majority of cases were the recruitment and use of children, and killing and maiming–which all together increased by more than 130 per cent between October and December compared to the previous three months.

“Civilians need protection from all forms of violence. Communities caught up in fighting need protection. Far too many children are being affected by grave violations of their rights, including killings, abduction and recruitment by armed groups.

“In the first three months of 2024, nearly 1,400 people were reported killed in violent incidents in the central Sahel, a number that has been steadily rising over the last few years, and is 66 per cent higher than the same quarter last year (ACLED data).

“UNICEF calls on all involved in the ongoing crisis in central Sahel to put an end to all forms of violence, killing and abuse of children, in line with their obligations under international law.”


Media contacts

Sara Alhattab
Tel: +1 917 957 6536
John James
UNICEF West and Central Africa
Tel: + 221 78 638 02 52


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube