Children face unprecedented threats in conflict zones: Report

June 11, 2013

New York: Children living in armed conflict zones face unprecedented threats to their lives, a UN report said on Wednesday, documenting grave violations including cases of sexual violence against children, their recruitment as soldiers and targeted attacks on schools.

The annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict was released by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict here.

It highlighted grave violations of children such as the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, sexual violence against children, killing and maiming, and recurrent attacks on hospitals and schools.

“Such violations must stop,” said UNICEF in response to the findings, adding that “the continuing trend of schools being attacked and used for military purposes is particularly abhorrent.”

The report highlights cases of attacks against education personnel in several countries and use of school buildings as military barracks, weapons storage facilities, command centres and detention and interrogation sites among others.

“These actions put children’s lives at risk, hampers their right to an education and results in reduced enrolment and high drop-out rates, especially among girls,” the report said.

167 education personnel, including 69 teachers, were reported killed up to the end of February 2013 and 2,445 schools are reported damaged.

In some areas, children have not been to school in over 18 months.

The section on Syria in the report documents use of bombs near schools, resulting in the injuries and death of children.

In Afghanistan, targeted attacks against schools were also reported, including use of improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks besides abduction and killing of the staff.

Acts of intimidation, threats against teachers and students, and the forced closure of schools were the other violations highlighted.I

n Mali, the take-over of northern Mali by armed groups in 2012 has had a devastating effect on children’s access to education, the report concluded.

As of February 2013, 86 percent of students remaining in the north still do not have access to education.