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West, Central African children suffer due to conflicts

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-06-29 16:45

Children in West and Central Africa have suffered greatly due to ongoing conflicts in the regions, new research by the United Nations Children's Fund has found. 

Dubbed "25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war", the report published on Tuesday said the region has the second-highest number of verified violations since 2005 with more than 67,000 verified grave violations, accounting for a quarter of all violations globally. 

In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the report found the number of verified grave violations increased by 40 percent in the first quarter this year compared with the last quarter of last year.

Additionally, hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed in recent attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali. 

The report found between 2005 and 2020 more than 7,600 children have been verified as killed or maimed in armed conflict in the region. 

Over 42,000 children have been verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict and at least 4,800 children have been verified as abducted by parties to conflict.

Additionally, parties to conflict have raped, forcibly married, sexually exploited and committed other forms of sexual violence against at least 8,000 children. 

The report said the United Nations verified more than 2,500 incidents of attacks against schools and hospitals and verified at least 1,900 incidents of denial of humanitarian access for children since 2005 in West and Central Africa.

"Behind each of the violations detailed in the report is a child, his or her family and members of a community whose lives are torn apart, sometimes forever. We cannot remain indifferent and silent," said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF regional director for West and Central Africa. "The killing, abduction, and rape of girls and boys are horrific crimes. Attacks on civilians including children must be stopped and all measures for their protection, including military operations, must be taken." 

Globally, the report verified over 266,000 grave violations against children committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 locales across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

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