Child victims of war spiked in 2023 amid Gaza, Sudan crises: UN report

AFP , Wednesday 12 Jun 2024

Violence against children in armed conflicts reached "extreme levels" in 2023, particularly in Gaza and Sudan, according to a forthcoming UN report obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

FILE - A man mourns over the bodies of his two daughters who were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at a hospital morgue in Rafah, on April 4, 2024.AP


The United Nations' annual "Children in Armed conflict" report placed the Sudanese army as well as the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on the blacklist for "the killing and maiming of children, and for attacks on schools and hospitals."

Also added to the blacklist was the Israeli army for its military campaign on Gaza as well as Hamas and the armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the October 7 attack on Israel.

"In 2023, violence against children in armed conflict reached extreme levels, with a shocking 21 percent increase in grave violations," said the report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which is due to be published on Thursday.

The UN verified 30,705 violations committed against children last year, including 5,301 killings, 6,348 injuries, 8,655 instances of children recruited and used in conflicts, 5,205 denials of humanitarian access and 4,356 kidnappings.

"We've never verified so many violations against children as last year," said a senior UN official speaking on condition of anonymity.

In 2023, "children bore the brunt of multiplying and escalating crises that were marked by a complete disregard for child rights, notably the inherent right to life," the report said.

 'A long, long time to verify 

The conflict in the Middle East has led to a 155 percent increase in grave violations against children, the report said.

The report confirmed the deaths of 2,141 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip in 2023, with 2,051 killed between October 7 and December 31.

"It will take a long, long time to verify," said the UN official.

As for Sudan, it has seen "a staggering 480 percent increase in grave violations against children" against children from 2022 to 2023, the report said.

The RSF paramilitary force was listed for recruiting children and for "rape and other forms of sexual violence against children," as well as attacks on schools and hospitals.

"I am appalled by the dramatic increase in grave violations," Guterres wrote in the report, also noting a rise in ethnically motivated attacks and mass displacement of children in Sudan.

Covering some 20 conflict zones worldwide, the report includes the killing, injuring, recruitment, kidnapping and sexual violence against children.

It verified 30,705 "grave violations" committed last year, including during the war in Gaza.

The Russian army and "affiliated armed groups," remained on the blacklist for killing 80 children in Ukraine in 2023 and injuring 339.

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