Sexual violence against children during armed conflict, vastly underreported |

Virginia Gamba, the UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, blamed “fear of stigma and reprisal, involvement of powerful perpetrators and lack of services for survivors,” which all discourage. children and their families to report violations and seek justice. More than 730 cases of sexual violence have been verified in the past year.

The numbers “do not fall”

This violation is one of many trends described in the Secretary-General’s latest report on the impact of armed conflict on children, which Ms. Gamba presented to the Council.

More worryingly, she said the number of cases attributed to state and non-state actors is similar, despite a growing number of parties having signed pledges with the UN to end the violation. “The numbers don’t seem to be going down,” said Gamba.

Stronger accountability mechanisms and systematic care services for survivors are needed to decisively address this scourge. She said it is also essential that the armed forces strengthen their training to prevent such abuses, and that prevention measures are properly reflected in legislation criminalizing sexual violence.

Children “no bargaining chip”

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (file), by UN Photo / Evan Schneider

“The voice and support of this Council can be instrumental in supporting these children,” Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). Among them were cases of rape and sexual violence against more than 15,000 children.

Over 77,000 children have been recruited and used during armed conflict and over 100,000 children have been killed and maimed. The Mechanism also reported the abduction of more than 25,000 children, nearly 17,000 attacks on schools and hospitals, and nearly 11,000 incidents of denial of humanitarian access. “And these are just the verified cases,” she said. “The actual numbers are certainly much higher.”

The Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict – ratified by 170 countries – is just one of many instruments that governments can adopt and implement to help reduce these numbers.

She called on the Council to use its influence to urge the 50 parties to the conflict who have yet to sign action plans to do so. “Children are not pawns or currencies,” she said. “It must stop. “

Press release calls for ‘mainstreaming’ child protection

In a press release issued at the end of the debate, the members of the security Council commended the efforts of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, created by resolution 1612, adopted fifteen years ago.

The 15-member body reaffirmed that “quality education provided in a safe environment” in conflict zones is “essential to stop and prevent the recruitment and re-recruitment of children contrary to the obligations of parties to conflict. “.

Members of the Security Council further welcomed the continued strengthening of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, also established by resolution 1612, and commended the role of UNICEF and other United Nations entities on field.

They called on States and the United Nations “to integrate child protection into all relevant conflict, conflict and post-conflict prevention activities with the aim of maintaining peace and preventing conflict”.

Members also reaffirmed their support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in the discharge of her mandate, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.