UK refuses to sign UN document protecting schools in war
February 8, 2016
(The Telegraph) – Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has been accused of vetoing a request for Britain to sign up to a UN initiative to prevent schools and schoolchildren from becoming victims of war. Unicef, the United Nations children’s fund, along with children’s charities, is promoting a “safe schools declaration”, setting out guidelines for how armed forces can avoid targeting schools in war. The initiative, which has been signed by 51 countries already, is being launched in Britain as gruesome pictures emerge from Syria, Yemen and elsewhere of children bombed and maimed in conflicts there.
Top UN Human Rights Official Begins Talks in Sri Lanka
February 6, 2016
(AP) – The top U.N. human rights official began discussions with the Sri Lankan government Saturday on the measures taken by the island nation to investigate alleged atrocities committed during its long civil war, as hundreds of protesters marched against the world body’s involvement. The visit by Zeid Raad al-Hussein follows last year’s resolution at the U.N. human rights body that required foreign judges to assist Sri Lanka in the investigation. Sri Lanka’s civil war ended in 2009, after the government forces crushed the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. Both sides were accused of committing grave human rights abuses such as killing civilians and recruiting child soldiers.
Central African Republic: Rape by Peacekeepers
February 4, 2016
(HRW) – United Nations peacekeepers in the Central African Republic raped or sexually exploited at least eight women and girls between October and December 2015. Among the survivors are a 14-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman who said peacekeepers gang-raped them near Bambari airport in the center of the country. “In a country where armed groups routinely prey on civilians, peacekeepers should be protectors, not predators,” said Hillary Margolis, women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Sending peacekeepers back home is not enough. The UN needs to insist that troops’ home countries bring rapist and other abusers to justice, and that survivors get the support they need.”
US military attacked for complicity in Afghan child soldiers after boy’s murder
February 4, 2016
(The Guardian) – The Taliban’s murder of a 10-year old Afghan boy this week has cast a spotlight on the practice by US allies of turning children into fighters in the war-torn country. Afghans have hailed the heroism of Wasil Ahmad, whom the Taliban killed in Uruzgan province on Monday for fighting alongside his uncle with a US-backed government militia called the Afghan Local Police. Wasil had won acclaim for helping ALP forces break an insurgent siege after his uncle, the unit’s commander, was wounded. He was declare a national hero by the Afghan government, and paraded, wearing an oversized uniform and wielding an AK-47. Overshadowed in the outpouring of grief is the grim practice of allowing children to take up arms, particularly alongside a quasi-official force created by the US military.
‘Protect the children’
February 3, 2016
(Manila Bulletin) – Should conflict make a return to Mindanao in the wake of the failed passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the government should take the necessary measures to keep children, regardless of their religion, safe. This was maintained by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) which said that children will be “most vulnerable in situations of armed conflict” now that the BBL has been declared dead in Congress. During the Pandesal Forum at the Kamuning Bakeshop Cafe in Quezon City Tuesday, Romeo C. Dongeto, PLCPD executive director, expressed concern about the possibility that Muslim radicalism could be on the rise anew and children could be the first defenseless victims of any resurgence of violence in Mindanao.
With 4 million Syrian children out of school, $1.4 billion sought by UN to save ‘lost generation’
February 2, 2016
(UN News Centre) – With four million Syrian and host community children in need of education and no let-up in sight in the fighting tearing the country apart, the United Nations and its partners are seeking $1.4 billion at a major conference in London on Thursday to save the current youth generation. “The scale of the crisis for children is growing all the time, which is why there are now such fears that Syria is losing a whole generation of its youth,” said UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Peter Salama, whose agency is coordinating the ‘No Lost Generation Initiative’.
Taliban Gun Down 10-Year-Old Militia Hero in Afghanistan
February 2, 2016
(New York Times) – The Afghan government declared Wasil Ahmad a hero for leading a militia’s defense against a Taliban siege last year, parading him in front of cameras in a borrowed police uniform too big for him. On Monday, the Taliban triumphantly announced that they had assassinated him with two bullets to the head. Wasil Ahmad was 10 years old.
InterAction Stresses Need To Restore Respect For Civilians In Armed Conflict
February 1, 2016
(InterAction) – The scale and severity of human suffering in current armed conflicts represent a distressing race to the bottom in disregard for the basic rules regulating armed conflict. Parties to conflict all too frequently use indiscriminate force in populated areas; deliberately target civilians as well as their homes, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure; and fail to take precautions in the conduct of military operations. Much of this loss of life and human suffering is avoidable. This is precisely what international humanitarian law, also known as the law of armed conflict, is for – to limit the effects of armed conflict.
Boko Haram in Nigeria kills at least 86, burns children
January 31, 2016
(Al Jazeera) – A survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram fighters firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria’s homegrown armed group. Scores of charred corpses and bodies with bullet wounds littered the streets from Saturday night’s attack on Dalori village and two nearby camps housing 25,000 refugees, according to survivors and soldiers at the scene just 3 miles from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the biggest city in Nigeria’s northeast.
UN: More child sex abuse cases by European troops in Africa
January 29, 2016
(AP) – The U.N. human rights office says it has turned up six more cases of alleged sexual abuse against children by European troops in Central African Republic, including a 7-year-old girl who said she had to perform sexual acts on soldiers in exchange for water and cookies. A U.N. team recently interviewed five girls and a boy who claimed their abusers were part of French and European Union military operations in the troubled African country, the office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said.