It is worrying period to be a child in many countries,apart from the rising number of sexual abuse cases as well as violence against children in ‘normal’ circumstances (i.e. in most countries) there is widespread condemnation about the abuse of children in situations of armed conflict. The report from the UN secretary general, below, provides some of the evidence of the perpetrators of the abuse of children in situations of armed conflict -but is enough done to control th etrade in arms and the manufacturers of the arms themselves? In many cases economies thrive on the production and sale of arms -so lets look at the bigger picture as well as the specifics listed below.
Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary-General
(UN General Assembly, UN Security Council)
The present report provides information on grave violations committed against children, in particular the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, the abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access to children by parties to conflict in contravention of applicable international law (see sect. II). The report also describes progress made by parties to conflict on dialogue and action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children and the killing and maiming of children, as well as on the release of children associated with armed forces and armed groups (see sect. III).
The full report is available here.
And from CRIN
The United Nations Secretary-General (SG) has issued his annual report on children and armed conflict to the Security Council which gives an overview of the situation of children in conflict zones and measures taken for their protection.
Annexes to the report include the so-called “list of shame”, a list of the countries that violate international standards on children and armed conflict. Each year, an updated version of the “list of shame” is included in the SG’s annual report. Read more.
The report is scheduled to be discussed by the Security Council during its annual open debate on Children and Armed Conflict. The debate will likely take place in September.
Last year, a new resolution extended the criteria for listing parties to the conflict in the annual report. The criteria now include parties that attack schools and hospitals. Prior to this resolution, the SG’s annual list was limited to parties who recruit or use, kill and/or maim children, or commit sexual violence.
Armed groups in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and Iraq, all feature on the list, as well as the Syrian Government forces who regularly shell, burn, loot and raid schools, as well as assault or threaten teachers, students, and medical personnel.
The “list of shame” is growing rapidly. It now contains 52 names, 32 of which are so-called “persistent perpetrators” – parties to conflict whose names have featured on the “list of shame” for five years or more.
The number of persistent perpetrators has doubled since the Secretary-General 9th report. Read more.
New groups on the radar
The report included Syrian government forces and their allied Shabiha militia for the first time.”In almost all recorded cases, children were among the victims of military operations by government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the Shabiha militia, in their ongoing conflict with the opposition, including the Free Syrian Army,” the report says.
Last week, Syria’s government was accused of carrying out a new massacre in a small village near the central city of Hama, with an opposition group claiming 100 people, including many women and children, had been killed.
“We have 100 deaths in the village of al-Qubair, among them 20 women and 20 children,” said Mohammed Sermini, spokesman for the Syrian National Council, who accused the regime of being behind the incident.
A few days earlier, over the weekend of 25 and 26 May, 49 children were killed in the El Houleh area of Homs, among a total of 116 victims, in a massacre that witnesses have described as a door-to-door killing spree. “[E]ntire families were shot in their houses,” said the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Some of the children were found with their hands tied behind their backs, with one witness recounting how in one home soldiers shot and killed children first so their parents would have to watch before being killed themselves.
A Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council on “The deteriorating human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic and the killings in El-Houleh” was held in Geneva on the 1st of June. The members of the Human Rights Council “condemned in the strongest possible terms the killings, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children and the wounding of hundreds more in the village of El-Houleh in attacks that involved a series of Government artillery and tank shellings on a residential neighbourhood.”
New parties were listed in Yemen (the First Armoured Division – FAD). In May, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had expressed concern over the use of heavy weaponry, landmines, as well as the detonation of unexploded ordnance in Yemen that have claimed the lives of 27 children and maimed 32 others so far. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the emergency in Yemen has all the characteristics of an acute humanitarian crisis, with nearly the entire population affected. Read more.
New parties were also listed in Sudan. Since violence broke out between Sudan and South Sudan a year ago, more than half a million people have been displaced by ongoing indiscriminate airstrikes by the Sudanese Armed Forces, as well as severe food shortages compounded by the Sudanese authorities’ refusal to allow independent humanitarian assistance into the areas. Read the report from Amnesty International.
And the veterans…
The Ugandan rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) remains among the most persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children. A new UN report released earlier this month, covering the period between July 2009 and February 2012, found evidence that at least 591 children, including 268 girls, were abducted and recruited by the LRA, mostly in DRC, but also in the Central African Republic (CAR), and in South Sudan.
New worrying trends
The report also highlights the increasing use of girls and boys as suicide bombers and “victim” bombers. “Victim” bombers are those who do not know that they are carrying explosives that are detonated from a distance. In 2011 alone, at least 11 children in Afghanistan and another 11 girls and boys in Pakistan were killed while conducting suicide attacks, some as young as eight years old.
De-listings, new action plans, releases of children
On a positive note, parties to conflict in Nepal and Sri Lanka have been removed from the list after their successful completion of Security Council-mandated action plans to end the recruitment and use of children. In 2011, five more parties in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan entered into similar agreements with the United Nations.
In 2011, the release of children associated with armed forces and armed groups have taken place in the Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, DRC, Myanmar, South Sudan and Sudan.