Violence against children in countries in conflict – recruitment of child soldiers, murder, mutilation, rape, kidnapping – continued at a high level in 2021, a year marked by an increase in sexual violence, said a report published this month, which according to NGOs downplay crimes attributed to Israel.
“Again this year, two violations (of children’s rights) have increased sharply”, namely “kidnapping and rape and other forms of sexual violence (which) have increased tragically by 20%”, states a press release accompanying the publication of the annual report per . UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
This document reviews several countries in conflict and identifies in an appendix, entitled “List of shame”, those responsible for the identified violations, state and non-state authorities and armed groups.
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Along with Ethiopia and Mozambique, Ukraine has been added to the report as a country of increasing concern due to the clashes taking place there.
Last year, the UN identified 23,982 serious violations of children’s rights, most against boys, including 22,645 committed in 2021 and 1,337 before but not confirmed until 2021, the document specifies.
While progress, such as the release of imprisoned or recruited children, has been achieved in some countries such as Mali, Nigeria and the Philippines, the most serious violations have occurred in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, according to the report .
Several NGOs reacted negatively to the UN chief’s report.
“Not only has the Secretary-General included the perpetrators of armed conflicts in Ukraine, Ethiopia and Mozambique in his ‘List of Shame,’ but his report provides no meaningful information about the heinous violations suffered by children in these conflicts.” , lamented Jo Becker, an official from the NGO Human Rights Watch.
“His omission of Israeli ‘List of Shame’ forces accused of murdering 78 Palestinian children in 2021 and maiming 982, ‘is another missed opportunity to hold them accountable’ as “other armed forces or groups have been listed for far fewer violations,” she added.
In a press release, another NGO, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, also laments a desire to minimize Israel’s responsibility and deplores a “blatant disregard” for the lives of children in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ukraine, as well as in other war-torn countries .
At a press conference, Antonio Guterres’ Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, dismissed criticism associated with Israel, saying the country had been warned it would be placed on the “List of Shame” for 2022 if no improvement is seen . .
The report states that “2,934 serious violations against 1,208 Palestinian children and 9 Israeli children (915 boys, 302 girls)” were committed in the year 2021 “in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the Gaza Strip and in Israel.
In addition to the crimes attributed to Israel, the report also mentions and condemns the “summer camps” organized by Palestinian terrorist groups – including the Gaza-led Hamas, as well as their recruitment of young children. It also remembers the children – Israeli and Palestinian – killed by Palestinian armed groups
“A total of 88 children (86 Palestinians, 2 Israelis; 64 boys, 24 girls) were killed in Gaza (69), the occupied West Bank (17), including East Jerusalem, and Israel (2), by Israeli forces (78 ), by Palestinian armed groups (8), by unidentified perpetrators and by explosive remnants of war (2),” the report states. “The 17 children in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, were killed by Israeli forces using live ammunition primarily during protests (9) and in connection with alleged or attempted attacks on civilians or Israeli forces (7). In Gaza, 59 children were killed by airstrikes and one by live ammunition from Israeli forces during the escalation of hostilities in May 2021, 6 of rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups, one by Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza fence, one by explosive remnants of war and one by unidentified perpetrators. The two Israeli children were killed by rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups. »
The report also lists the harm suffered by Israeli and Palestinian children as a result of actions by Israel and Palestinian terrorist groups, citing Israeli detentions of Palestinian children and attacks on schools and hospitals by both sides.