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Violence against children continues in conflicts around the world

2014-07-03

Children continue to suffer grave rights violations in 23 countries, confirms the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.

Toronto and Juba, South Sudan, 2 July 2014–  In 2013  children were recruited and used by fighting forces, killed or maimed, and were victims of sexual violence or other grave violations of their rights in 23 conflicts around the world. These are some of the findings unveiled this week in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.

Throughout 2013, the United Nations documented cases of children recruited and used by national armies and armed groups fighting wars in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, and in 11 other countries. The report also noted an increase in the number of children killed or mutilated in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

“Conflicts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Syria and Iraq have children teetering on the edge of catastrophe,” said David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada speaking from Juba, South Sudan. “Given the scale and urgency of these crises, UNICEF has escalated its emergency response to the highest possible level.”

While UNICEF responds to over 200 emergencies every year, this is the first time in its history where the agency has addressed four emergencies of this scale all at once.  All four countries are listed in the UN Secretary General’s Report as children of all ages continue to experience widespread violations of their rights. 

In South Sudan, the conflict that erupted in December 2013 erased most of the progress achieved to protect children since the country’s independence almost three years ago.

A week ago, the Government of South Sudan committed to ending grave violations against children and to restart the implementation of the Action Plan signed in 2012 to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the army.

“I sincerely hope that the anniversary of South Sudan will be one to remember -  one where all parties to the conflict firmly commit to turning the page on the recruitment and use of children in armed forces,” said David Morley. “The plight of the children I have met here in South Sudan must not be forgotten. We must always remember: there are no enemy children”.

Note to editors:

David Morley, President and CEO of UNICEF Canada is currently in South Sudan visiting Juba, Bor and Malakal and is available for comment until July 3 and in Canada beginning July 7.

The 2013 annual report covers 23 conflict situations. Fifty-nine parties to conflict are listed for grave violations against children in the annexes of the report, including 51 armed groups and seven armed forces in 15 country situations.

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UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.

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