"Every war is, ultimately, a war against children," UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a statement Monday. The United Nations Children's Fund published on Monday heavy figures on grave violations committed against children in conflict zones over the past 18 years.
"Since 2005, at least 120,000 children around the world have been killed or maimed as a result of conflict, an average of nearly 20 children per day," the organization wrote.
In all, "between 2005 and 2022, the United Nations verified 315,000 grave violations against children in conflict zones, a stark illustration of the devastating impact of war and conflict on children." The figures go back to 2005, not earlier, because this year marks the establishment of a United Nations monitoring system on this subject.
"The real toll is probably much higher"
These data include cases of children "killed or maimed", but also "105,000 children recruited or used by armed forces or armed groups, more than 32,500 children abducted, more than 16,000 child victims of sexual violence (...) more than 16,000 attacks on schools and hospitals, and more than 22,000 cases of denial of humanitarian access to children."
UNICEF states that these figures relate to children with whom UNICEF has intervened and who have been verified, which means that "the real toll is probably much higher". In Ukraine alone, from 1 to 21 May 2023, the UN writes that it recorded 133 civilian deaths, including 5 children, and 466 wounded, including 22 children.
On the other hand, UNICEF does not take into account in this assessment the serious psychological consequences of conflicts on the youngest, who often find themselves displaced, far from their communities and who have sometimes lost family members.
"Exposure to conflict has catastrophic effects"
To reduce these numbers, UNICEF is calling for respect for international laws in place to protect children in times of war, to condemn those responsible and to increase funding for the protection of children affected by conflict.
"We must do everything we can to help all children in need, especially the most vulnerable," says Catherine Russell, adding that "exposure to conflict has catastrophic effects that disrupt children's lives. We know what needs to be done to protect them from war, yet we are not doing enough. »