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"Record High in Worst Crimes Against Children: Save the Children Report"
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A recently released report highlights a disturbing surge in ‘grave violations’ against children in conflict, showing a 13% increase in 2022—the highest level since reporting began in 2005. The analysis, titled “Stop the War on Children: Let Children Live in Peace,” issued by Save the Children, projects an anticipated further rise in abuse in 2023. These violations encapsulate the most egregious crimes committed against children during conflicts, including killing, maiming, abduction, sexual violence, recruitment into armed groups, and attacks on schools and hospitals.

In 2022 alone, approximately 27,638 grave violations were recorded, averaging 76 per day. The report discloses that 468 million children, constituting one in six, resided in conflict zones during that year—a 2.8% increase compared to 2021. According to Save the Children’s analysis, the Democratic Republic of Congo ranked as the most perilous conflict-affected country for children in 2022, followed by Mali and Myanmar.

Save the Children UK’s CEO, Gwen Hines, expressed deep concern, asserting that the expected increase in violations against children in 2023 is exacerbated by the conflicts in Sudan and the ongoing bombardment of Gaza. She emphasized the disheartening trend of escalating violations against children, indicating a breakdown in global norms established to safeguard children in conflict zones. Hines underscored the urgency for decision-makers to prioritize the protection of children enduring their formative years in areas marred by conflict.

The report also sheds light on concerning trends such as an almost 300% increase in UN-verified cases of killing and maiming of children since 2010. Additionally, incidents of denial of humanitarian access have risen 15-fold over the same period, accompanied by an upswing in abductions. Despite enhanced international legal standards, the report notes the deployment of increasingly brutal tactics, including the use of children as suicide bombers, direct targeting of schools and hospitals, and the widespread use of indiscriminate weapons like cluster munitions, barrel bombs, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The psychological toll of toxic stress on children living in conflict zones is emphasized, with a profound impact that perpetuates a cycle of violence, hindering the reconstruction of peaceful societies. The evolving nature of modern conflict is highlighted in the report, citing factors such as crisis compliance, inadequate monitoring and reporting, heightened urban warfare, and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The conclusion underscores that children are now more at risk in conflict than at any time in the last two decades, emphasizing the urgent need for accountability and protection of children in the face of relentless attacks.

Piers Potter

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