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Violence Against South Sudan's Children Soaring, UN Says

Children displaced by the fighting in South Sudan wait to be registered at a refugee camp in Ethiopia.

The conflict in South Sudan has brought a sharp rise in the number of children who have been killed, orphaned, raped, maimed or suffered other human rights violations, the United Nations says in a report released this week.

"The impact of the violence on children has been catastrophic. Children have not only been affected by the conflict, they have been directly targeted," says the report by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

All parties to the year-old conflict in South Sudan have committed serious rights violations against children, the report says.

Although the report does not paint a rosy picture of life in South Sudan before the current conflict began, it says things got much worse for children after violence erupted in Juba on December 15, 2013.

Hundreds of children have been killed and thousands have been forced to fight as child soldiers for both sides in the conflict. Girls and boys have been abducted, raped and suffered other forms of sexual violence, the report says.

Education has been disrupted as schools have been attacked or occupied by fighters from both sides of the conflict. The U.N. has said separately that around 400,000 children have dropped out of school since the conflict began.

Girls and boys have been killed, maimed, raped, orphaned or made homeless by ethnic violence during the conflict, the report says. Thousands have been separated from their parents, it says.

The report is the first by the U.N. Secretary General on children in conflict in South Sudan since the country became independent in July 2011.

The Secretary General calls in the report for the government of South Sudan to launch a program to help reintegrate former child soldiers to civilian life, and to take steps to ensure that those who commit violence against children are brought to justice.