More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed last year in armed conflicts around the world, a U.N. report said this week.
More than 21,000 "grave violations" of children's rights were reported in 2017, a sharp increase from the year before, according to the annual Children and Armed Conflict report that was released Wednesday.
"Despite some progress, the level of violations remains unacceptable," said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The report covers 20 countries, including hot spots such as Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan.
According to the report:
— The Saudi Arabia-led coalition was responsible for at least half of the more than 1,300 child deaths in Yemen. It was also responsible for injuring more than 300 children.
— Nigeria and Iraq imprisoned 2,200 and 1,000 children, respectively, because their families were allegedly associated with terrorist groups.
— Al-Shabab extremists in Somalia abducted more than 1,600 children to use as soldiers or sex slaves.
— In South Sudan, more than 1,200 children were recruited as soldiers.
— In Yemen, there were more than 840 cases of boys as young as 11 being recruited and used as soldiers.
"The point is, these kids should not be treated like children of a lesser God; they deserve the same rights as every kid to live their lives at least meaningfully and to be given a chance at recovery," said Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict.
Gamba said crises in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen were the main reasons for the "serious increases" in violations reported.