Child crying and being held by father in the middle of Israel-Gaza conflict,

Armed conflict, inter-communal violence and insecurity continued to take a devastating toll on thousands of children throughout 2021, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), warned recently. 

From Afghanistan to Yemen, and Syria to northern Ethiopia, UNICEF denounced grave violations against youngsters in both protracted and new conflicts. 

‘Dreadful disregard’

Four children were reportedly among the victims of a recent attack that killed at least 35 people—including two Save the Children staff—in Kayah state in eastern Myanmar.


In a statement, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said, 

“Children are suffering, and children are dying because of this callousness. Every effort should be made to keep these children safe from harm.” 

New data

Data is not yet available for 2021, but the UN verified 26,425 grave violations against children in 2020.

The first three months of 2021 saw a slight decrease in the overall number of these grave violations but verified cases of abduction and sexual violence continued to rise at alarming rates—by more than 50 and 10 percent, respectively. 

Verified abductions were highest in Somalia, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon and Niger).

On the other hand, verified instances of sexual violence were highest in the DRC, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

Backward glance

This year marked a quarter of a century since the publication of Graça Machel’s seminal Impact of war on children report, which urged the UN and international community to take action.

Over the past 16 years, the UN has verified 266,000 cases of grave violations against children in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

While these cases were verified through the 2005 UN-led Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, the actual figures are most likely much higher, according to UNICEF.

Afghanistan, for example, has the highest number of verified child casualties since 2005. With more than 28,500 incidents, the country accounts for 27 percent of all verified child casualties globally.

Meanwhile, the Middle East and North Africa has the highest number of verified attacks on schools and hospitals, with 22 verified in the first six months of the year.

Source: UN News