Increased Levels of Violence Disproportionately Affect Children
UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Presents her Annual Report to the General Assembly
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, October 16, 2014
New York – Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, alerted the General Assembly that in the past few months, the intensity of fighting has reached unprecedented levels in many conflicts.
“Children are the primary victims,” the Special Representative said during the presentation of her annual report. “They have been killed, maimed, used and recruited, targeted and brutalized by armed forces and groups.”
She urged the international community to come together to protect children in the face of new waves of extremism sweeping across Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and northern Mali. In addition, protracted conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as large scale emergencies in Syria, Iraq, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Gaza continue to take a dramatic toll on children.
“Children’s association with extremist armed groups poses new challenges to child protection actors, especially when counter-terrorism measures are applied to children with little or no consideration for their age,” declared Zerrougui. “Another challenge is reintegrating these children back into society, which requires special care and psycho-social assistance that are not always available.”
Attacks against schools and hospitals on the rise
Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize reaffirms the urgency to act to protect the right to education for all children, even in times of conflict. The increase in attacks against schools and hospitals is a call for all to better protect these facilities and to adopt concrete measures to deter the military use of schools.
Children, Not Soldiers
Leila Zerrougui concluded her presentation by calling on the General Assembly to endorse and support the campaign ‘Children, Not Soldiers’, which aims to end the recruitment and use of children in Government security forces in conflict by 2016.
“Ensuring that children are not associated with armed forces in conflict is essential to build professional armies and stable societies based on the rule of law and the protection of children’s rights,” said the Special Representative.