Colombia urges FARC rebels to release 2,000 child soldiers
April 15, 2015

(Reuters) – The Colombian government has urged FARC rebels to keep their promise not to recruit child soldiers and release the estimated 2,000 underage fighters in their ranks. Commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in February they would stop recruiting children younger than 17 in what was seen as a conciliatory step in peace talks between the leftist rebels and the government.

 

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Nigeria: Abducted women and girls forced to join Boko Haram attacks
April 14, 2015

(Amnesty International) – At least 2,000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the start of 2014 and many have been forced into sexual slavery and trained to fight, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok school girls. Based on nearly 200 witness accounts, including 28 with abducted women and girls who escaped captivity, a new 90-page report, ‘Our job is to shoot, slaughter and kill': Boko Haram’s reign of terror, documents multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Boko Haram, including the killing of at least 5,500 civilians, as it rampaged across north-east Nigeria during 2014 and early 2015.

 

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“Let’s pave the way to justice for all children” – First anniversary of the UN communications procedure for children marks time for global action
April 14, 2015

(OSRSG-CAAC) – As we celebrate the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, the International Coalition Ratify OP3CRC, together with leading UN experts on children’s rights, including Kirsten Sandberg, Chairperson of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, and on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais, as well as the Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, call on all States to make a quantum leap on the path to justice for children through the ratification of the Third Optional Protocol without delay. The mechanism allows children or their representatives to report child rights violations to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in cases where the national legal system fails to provide a remedy for these violations. The Committee then investigates the complaints, and can ask governments to take action.

 

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Ban urges global community to ‘never forget’ Nigerian girls on anniversary of abduction
April 14, 2015

(UN News Centre) – On the one-year anniversary of their abduction by the extremist group Boko Haram, the kidnapped girls of Chibok, Nigeria must not be forgotten, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today as he reiterated his call for their immediate release and safe return to their families. “While some of the girls were fortunate to have escaped, the fate of many still remains unknown,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson. Some 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, located in Nigeria’s restive north-eastern Borno state, in April 2014, as the militant group ramped up brutal attacks targeting the African country’s children.

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Islamic State Recruits Teen Soldiers With Cars, Cash and Guns
April 14, 2015

(Bloomberg) – They look like regular Islamic State militants in khaki fatigues and black bandanas, exercising and practicing combat routines. Yet their size and lack of trademark black beards betray them as children. The group, also known as ISIS or Da’esh, is already turning to the next generation to ensure its legacy of extremism and brutal violence endures as a U.S.-led offensive chips away at areas it controls in Iraq and Syria. Using recruitment offices in Syria called “Cubs of the Caliphate,” the al-Qaeda breakaway group is incorporating young Muslims into its ranks, sending some into battle or having them shoot hostages.

 

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800,000 children forced to flee violence in Nigeria and region – UNICEF
April 13, 2015

(UNICEF) – Around 800,000 children have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the conflict in northeast Nigeria between Boko Haram, military forces and civilian self-defence groups – according to a new report from UNICEF. Released one year after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Missing Childhoods reveals that the number of children running for their lives within Nigeria, or crossing over the border to Chad, Niger and Cameroon, has more than doubled in just less than a year.

 

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Monitor says Syrian army bombs Aleppo school
April 12, 2015

(Reuters) – A group monitoring the Syrian war said at least nine people including five children were killed in a Syrian army air strike that hit a school in a rebel-held area of the country’s second city Aleppo on Sunday, though the army denied the report. A Syrian army source told Reuters the army had stepped up attacks on rebels since the insurgents bombarded a government-held residential area in the northwestern city on Saturday. But he said the military had not targeted civilians.

 

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Third of fighters in Yemen are children, says Unicef
April 10, 2015

(The Guardian) – Children make up a third of fighters in the armed groups in conflict-wracked Yemen, according to a UN official, who also issued a warning about malnutrition levels in the country. “We are seeing children in battle, at checkpoints and unfortunately among [those] killed and injured,” Julien Harneis, Unicef’s representative in Yemen, said during a stop in Geneva. He said staff of Unicef and its partners had estimated that around 30% of fighters in the armed groups were minors.

 

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Children in conflict areas left behind
April 9, 2015

(NRC) – Although the number of children out of school has been falling since 2000, children in conflict-affected countries continue to be excluded from this progress. “The international community made the promise that by 2015, all children should have their right to education fulfilled. Instead 58 million girls and boys are still out of school, many living in conflict areas. The international community has failed our most vulnerable children”, says NRC’s education advisor Silje Skeie. A new report from UNESCO shows that children in conflict areas make up 36 percent of all those 58 million children who are out of school in the world today. This is up from 30 percent in 2000.

 

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Bring Them Back Now – Commentary by Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education
April 9, 2015

(Project Syndicate) – It has been nearly a year since the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school in the town of Chibok in northern Nigeria on April 14, 2014. This week, on the website for the Office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, I will be publishing pictures of the missing girls. I expect many will find the photographs shocking; they reveal just how young and vulnerable the kidnapped children are. At the time of their abduction, the girls were 14, 15, and 16 years old. They were seized while studying for their exams. They wanted to become nurses, doctors, and teachers. Instead, they are now about to enter their second year of imprisonment.

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