UN identifies 26,425 grave breaches against minors in 2020

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UNITED NATIONS – In 2020, the UN secretary-general’s annual report on children and armed conflict identified 26,425 grave breaches against children.

According to the data published on Monday, 23,946 breaches were recorded in 2020, and 2,479 were previously committed but verified only in 2020.

In 21 incidents, 19,379 minors, including 14,097 males, were subjected to violations. According to the report, the most infractions involved the recruitment and use of 8,521 minors, followed by the killing and torturing of 8,422 children and 4,156 instances of denial of human rights.

Children were arrested for actual or alleged involvement with armed groups, such as those listed as terrorist organizations by the UN.

The escalation of violence, armed conflicts, and disdain for international human rights and humanitarian law had a negative influence on child protection. According to the research, cross-border spillover of wars and intercommunal violence-afflicted children, particularly in the Sahel and Lake Chad basin regions.

Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen had the largest number of grave violations.

Validated cases of child abduction and sexual abuse against children surged by 90% and 70%, respectively. According to the investigation, kidnapping is frequently paired with the recruitment and use of minors, as well as sexual assault.

Grave offenses have varied effects on boys and girls. While boys made up 85 percent of the minors recruited and exploited, girls made up 98 percent of the victims of sexual abuse. According to the findings, sexual violence is grossly underreported due to stigma, cultural norms, lack of assistance, and safety concerns.

The Covid-19 pandemic worsened children’s pre-existing vulnerabilities, impairing their access to education, health, and social services, restricting child protection initiatives, and reducing safe spaces.

The pandemic’s socioeconomic consequences exposed these minors to terrible human rights violations, including recruitment and exploitation, extortion, and sexual violence. The report indicated that attacks on schools and hospitals, as well as their military usage, aggravated children’s predicament.

Children affected by armed conflict must be protected in order to prevent conflict and maintain peace, according to the report, which calls on national and regional stakeholders to develop and extend programs to prevent grave abuses.

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