UN Report: Grave Violations Against Children in Conflict ‘Alarmingly High’

Kamilla Sorskar Engen, Head of International Affairs

20 Jun 2021

The report states that in 2020, over 19,379 children were victims of grave violations, including recruitment or rape. The greatest proportions of grave violations occurred in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. A total of 26,425 grave violations were confirmed by the UN to have taken place, including abduction, recruitment, killing, maiming, and sexual violence.

According to the report, “Escalation of conflict, armed clashes and disregard for international humanitarian law and international human rights law had a severe impact on the protection of children.” This was further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, as the measures to prevent its spread affected the ability of the UN child protection monitors and experts to conduct their work. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on CAAC, Virginia Gamba, noted that “The wars of adults have taken away the childhood of millions of boys and girls again in 2020. This is completely devastating for them, but also for the entire communities they live in, and destroys chances for a sustainable peace.”

The report found that the most prevalent violations against children in 2020 were recruitment and use, as well as killing and maiming, followed by the denial of humanitarian access, and abduction. There was an ‘exponential growth’ in abductions, increasing by a tragic 90%, whilst rape and sexual violence grew by 70%. The report found that girls comprised a quarter of child victims of grave violations, mostly experiencing sexual violence, with 98% of victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence being girls. This was followed by killing and maiming. Gamba noted that, “If boys and girls experience conflict differently and require interventions to better address their specific needs, what the data also showed is that conflict doesn’t differentiate based on gender.”

The report also identifies some progress in dialogues with opposing groups in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Sudan, and Syria. In 2020, around 35 new commitments were achieved to protect children, such as two action plans signed in Myanmar and South Sudan. Over 12,643 recruited children were also released by armed groups as a result of UN engagement. However, the report notes that child protection capacities in the field are overstretched and underfunded.

The report:

Read more about the CAAC report here: