(UN) – SG calls for better protection from attacks on schools and hospitals.
New York, 11 May – Every year the Secretary-General lists those parties to conflict who recruit and use, kill and maim or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children in conflict. The Annual Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict, issued today, gives an overview of the situation of children affected by conflict and action taken for their protection over the reporting period. (Lists attached)
“2010 proved another tragic year for children in conflicts all over the world. We’ve taken no parties off of the list and added four more–two in Yemen and two in Iraq,” said Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy.
Attacks on schools and hospitals
Out of 22 country situations reported in the Annual Report, 15 make reference to attacks on schools and hospitals. Direct and physical damage to schools seems to be the most reoccurring violation, but there are also reported incidents of closure of schools and hospitals as a result of direct threats and intimidation, military occupation. Schools are often used as recruiting groups for children.
“I am concerned about the increasing trend of attacks on schools and hospitals,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the report. The Secretary-General recommends that the Security Council add parties to conflict that are attacking schools and hospitals to the annex of the report.
“Schools must be safe places of learning and development for all children. They should be zones of peace. Those who attack schools and hospitals should know that they will be held accountable,” said Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Coomaraswamy.
Most recent developments
The report contains detailed information on violations against children in the following countries: Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Occupied Palestinian Territories/Israel, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Southern border provinces of Thailand, Uganda and Yemen.
More specifically, the Annual Report includes preliminary details from 2010 about the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.
The United Nations has made progress in Afghanistan where the Government recently signed an agreement to release children from the Afghan National Security Forces and address other violations. The Afghan Government has put in place important measures to prevent underage recruitment: the Ministry of Interior is training its staff in age verification procedures, has – in cooperation with NATO – put in place an alert mechanism for child recruitment and sexual abuse and is working on a nationwide awareness campaign.
In the Philippines, registration of children with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front progressed in 18 of the 21 MILF base commands.
The Special Representative also secured commitments from the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia to work towards an action plan to release girls and boys. These agreements were, in part, due to the listing of these parties to conflict in previous Annual Reports.
“Despite the negative developments in 2011—such as attacks on schools and the number of parties that continue to commit grave violations, it is encouraging to note that more and more parties are approaching the United Nations to enter into an action plan to get off of the Secretary-General’s list of shame. We welcome these developments and hope the momentum will continue,” said SRSG Coomaraswamy.