World Failed to Protect Children in 2018: UNICEF

Children at a shelter in Jibreen, Aleppo, Syria, play with a cart. Photo: UNICEF/Rzehak
Children at a shelter in Jibreen, Aleppo, Syria, play with a cart. Photo: UNICEF/Rzehak

The futures of millions of children living in countries affected by armed conflict are at risk, as warring parties continue to commit grave violations against children, and world leaders fail to hold perpetrators accountable, UNICEF said.

“Children living in conflict zones around the world have continued to suffer through extreme levels of violence over the past 12 months, and the world has continued to fail them,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. “For too long, parties to conflict have been committing atrocities with near-total impunity, and it is only getting worse. Much more can and must be done to protect and assist children.”

Children living in countries at war have come under direct attack, have been used as human shields, killed, maimed or recruited to fight. Rape, forced marriage, and abduction have become standard tactics in conflicts from Syria to Yemen, and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar.

“2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions, yet today, more countries are embroiled in internal or international conflict than at any other time in the past three decades. Children living through conflict are among the least likely to be guaranteed their rights. Attacks on children must end,” Fontaine said.

UNICEF calls on all warring parties to abide by their obligations under international law to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and water infrastructure. UNICEF also calls on states with influence over parties to conflict to use that influence to protect children.

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