United Nations says West Africa has the largest number of child soldiers

A new UNICEF report states that children in West and Central Africa have become the most recruited children of the armed groups with the largest number of victims of sexual violence in the world

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso-A report released by UNICEF on Tuesday said that children in conflict in West and Central Africa are the countries with the largest number of armed groups recruited in the world and the largest number of victims of sexual violence. nation.

According to the report, the conflict has intensified in the region over the past five years, with government forces and armed groups recruiting more than 21,000 children. In addition, the report stated that since 2016, more than 2,200 children in the region have been victims of sexual violence.

According to the report, more than 3,500 children have been abducted, making it the second most abducted area in the world.

Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa, told the Associated Press: “These numbers and trends are very worrying for children of today and tomorrow.”

“Not only in West and Central Africa, serious violations of children by parties to the conflict have not stopped, but in the past five years, we have even seen a surge, with the total number of verified serious violations increasing by 50%,” she said.

According to the report, since the United Nations established a system to monitor and report serious violations of children (such as recruitment, kidnapping, rape, and attacks on schools and hospitals) in 2005, a quarter of violations worldwide have occurred in West and Central Africa. .

The United Nations stated that in conflict-affected countries such as Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, violence has had devastating humanitarian consequences for children and communities, and the pandemic has intensified situation.

More than 57 million children need humanitarian assistance, and this number has doubled since last year due to conflict and the virus.

According to the UN Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, although some countries have been receiving attention for the past ten years, three new areas of concern have now emerged: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and countries around Lake Chad.

Four countries across the Lake Chad basin—Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria—clashes that have displaced approximately 3 million people. In Burkina Faso, the jihadist rebellion has caused thousands of deaths and children recruited this year The number has increased by at least five-fold, up to four recorded cases throughout the year last year, according to information seen by the Associated Press in an unpublished report by international aid and conflict experts.

In the deadly attack in the country’s Sahel in June, at least 160 people were killed. Children were seen side by side with jihadists, chanting “Allahu akbar” as they burned houses (the Arabic word for God is great) ).

Children associated with armed groups often suffer “unbearable violence” and other violations may occur before and after their recruitment, such as kidnapping, sexual violence, and killing and maiming of children, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba told the Associated Press.

The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict to prevent and end violations of children, and demands that the perpetrators be held accountable. It urges aid groups to increase their records of violations and work to prevent and respond to violations. UNICEF stated that it needs more than US$92 million to protect children in emergencies in West and Central Africa, more than half of which have yet to receive funding.

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