The United Nations has verified over 67,000 grave violations against children in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa, accounting for the second-highest number of verified violations since 2005.
According to a report titled ‘25 years of children and armed conflict: Taking action to protect children in war,’ more than 7,600 children have been verified as killed or maimed in situations of armed conflict between 2005 and 2022, and over 42,000 children have been recruited and used by parties to the conflict.
The report noted that many children suffer from more than one violation, increasing their vulnerability.
It revealed that abduction is often combined with or leads to other violations, particularly recruitment and use for violence and sexual violence.
The report said that children, especially girls, who have been abducted, are exposed to elevated risks of sexual violence, including rape, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.
Marie-Pierre Poirier, the UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, noted that “behind each of the violations detailed in the report is a child, his or her family and members of a community whose lives are torn apart, sometimes forever.”
She added that in most conflict areas of the region, civilians continued to be targeted.
This includes the deliberate targeting of frontline humanitarian workers who find it more challenging to deliver life-saving services and supplies to children in large parts of the Central Sahel and other conflict-affected areas of the region.
Childhood trauma persists
According to a UNICEF report published in Oct. 2021, mental disorders are significant but often ignored despite their interference with children’s and young people’s health, education, and ability to reach their full potential.
One of the report’s key messages is that the number of psychiatrists who specialise in treating children and adolescents is fewer than 0.1 per 100,000 in all but high-income countries, where the figure is 5.5 per 100,000.
It also adds that “investment in promoting and protecting mental health, distinct from caring for children facing the greatest challenges, is meagre.”
Humangle has also reported how conflict and displacements affect children in Nigeria.
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