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Children have continued to suffer the consequences of man-made conflict in 2021, despite some progress, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Almost 40 per cent of all killing and maiming cases of children were caused by explosive remnants of war, anti-personnel landmines, and improvised explosive devices, according to the latest edition of the annual UN report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba called for all parties to take responsibility and refrain from their use.

The UN official said post-conflict reconstruction processes should prioritise clearing these weapons, which “contaminate land and structures, stop the reestablishment of communities, and continue to cause unacceptable and disproportionate harm to children for dozens of years after the end of the conflict.”

Girls targetted

Gamba expressed concern about countries, where “very extreme groups” such as Boko Haram and its splinter groups, operate.

She said, “these groups that were not so organized in the past, are more organized now. And they, without a doubt, target girls. ”

“They target the abduction of girls, and…basically, the rape and sexual violence, are a product of that.”

Dangers to children

The report details the impact that various forms of conflict had on children around the world in 2021 but does not include Ukraine. The dangers range from:

Conflict escalation

Military coups and takeovers

Protracted and new conflicts

Violations of international law

Cross-border conflict and inter-communal violence also impacted the protection of children, especially in the Lake Chad Basin and Central Sahel regions.

Grave violations

The report highlights almost 24,000 verified grave violations against children, an average of some 65 violations every day.

The killing and maiming of children was the most verified grave violation followed by the recruitment and use of children and the denial of humanitarian access.

Attacks on schools and hospitals also showed an increase, which was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children from the following countries were most affected by grave violations in 2021:

Afghanistan,

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory,

Somalia,

Syria

Yemen

The report found more than 2800 children were detained for their actual or alleged association with parties to conflict, making them particularly vulnerable to torture, sexual violence, and other abuses.

Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Ukraine have been added to the Secretary-General Annual Report as situations of concern, due to the dramatic impact of hostilities on children in these areas.

The Secretary-General has also requested enhanced monitoring of violations against children in the Central Sahel Region, similar to his request for the Lake Chad Basin region in 2020.

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