News / Africa

UN: Children Victimized in World Conflicts

Two Palestinian refugee children lean on the wall of a house in Gezirat al-Fadel village, Sharqiya, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Cairo, Egypt, May 17, 2013.
Two Palestinian refugee children lean on the wall of a house in Gezirat al-Fadel village, Sharqiya, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of Cairo, Egypt, May 17, 2013.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations says thousands of children have been killed, injured, tortured or recruited into militias and armies in the past year as a result of armed conflicts.  In its annual report on the situation, the world body notes progress in some states, but a worsening situation in others, such as Mali, Syria and the Central African Republic.  

The report chronicles violations in 21 countries during 2012 and includes Mali for the first time.

It focuses on six violations - recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, maiming and killing, abduction, sexual violence, denial of access for humanitarians, and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Countries with Children in Armed ConflictCountries with Children in Armed Conflict
x
Countries with Children in Armed Conflict
Countries with Children in Armed Conflict
The Secretary-General’s Envoy for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, said at the release of the report Wednesday the situation of children in Syria, Mali and the Central African Republic is especially troubling.

In Syria, where the conflict has entered its third year, the report cites the government for sexual violence against children and for targeting hospitals and schools.   Zerrougui says the opposition Free Syrian Army recruits children into its ranks.  

“They are killed, they are maimed, they are recruited, they are detained, they are tortured.  So children are really - in Syria, outside of Syria - they are also bearing what is happening to the adults because they are IDPs, they are prevented from going to school, they are seeing their parents killed," said Zerrougui.

Zerrougui plans to return to the region this month to assess the situation, going to neighboring countries where thousands of Syrian children are living as refugees.

“What we would like to do is to see this stop.  We would like to see parties take their responsibility to respect the standards that govern war and to ensure that children are not paying such a high price, and to preserve the life of civilians in general, and children in particular," she said. "We would like also to ask parties to allow humanitarians to access areas where children are in need."

In Mali, a rebellion in the north displaced thousands and led to grave violations against children, particularly by armed groups.

“Of course, in Mali, children are more than half of the population, and they were also severely affected by the conflict, they were killed, they were injured, but they were also recruited and a lot of sexual violence committed," said Zerrougui.

She said the situation in the Central African Republic was slowly improving until the end of 2012, when hostilities erupted between the government and the Séléka coalition and erased much of the progress made.  She said the recruitment of children is widespread; there are numerous reports of gang rape; the bombing of churches and playgrounds; and attacks on schools and hospitals.

In many cases it is not just armed groups committing violations, but the very militaries that are supposed to be protecting civilians.  This year’s report cites 46 armed groups and nine national militaries in its “List of Shame.”

There were two positive notes from the report:  both Nepal and Sri Lanka were removed from the List of Shame this year and five governments signed action plans to end violations and prevent the recruitment and use of children as soldiers.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs