More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed in conflict last year while more than 8,000 youngsters were recruited or used as combatants, the United Nations reported on Wednesday.
These violations contributed to the overall rise in the number of children globally affected by fighting in 2017, as documented in the annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).
UN chief António Guterres has expressed outrage over the numbers, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.
“Boys and girls have once again been overly impacted by protracted and new violent crisis. Despite some progress, the level of violations remains unacceptable,” the statement said.
“The Secretary-General reiterates that the best way to address this horrific situation is to promote peaceful solutions to conflicts. He calls on all parties to exert maximum efforts in this regard.”
The report covers 20 countries, including hotspots such as Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan, but also situations in countries such as India, the Philippines and Nigeria.
Virginia Gamba, the UN’s expert on Children and Armed Conflict, said 66 parties to conflict are listed this year - three more than in the 2016 report - with nine government forces and 57 armed groups named.
“Among the most significant violations registered in 2017 were killing and maiming, recruitment and use and attacks on schools and hospitals, all of which registered a rise in comparison to the previous year,” she told journalists at UN Headquarters.
Overall, the UN verified more than 21,000 grave violations of children’s rights between January and December 2017, compared with 15,500 the previous year.
Government forces committed at least 6,000 of these crimes while the majority involved various non-state armed groups.