Syria, Palestine, Yemen biggest violators of child soldier recruits

Syria, Palestine, Yemen biggest violators of child soldier recruits

The United Nations is sounding the alarm over the rising number of violations against children in Syria, including the recruitment of minors by the country’s various armed groups from January 2022 to December 2022. The warning came in the annual UN secretary general’s “Children and Armed Conflict” report released to the public on Tuesday.

“I am concerned about the increase in killing and maiming, recruitment and use, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals during the reporting period,” Antonio Guterres said in the report.

The highest number of violations against children were recorded in countries witnessing armed conflict, including several in the region, notably Israel and the Palestinian territories, Syria and Yemen.

A total of 3,133 “grave violations” against 1,139 Palestinian children and eight Israeli children were recorded in 2022 in the Gaza Strip, West Bank Jerusalem and Israel. Three Palestinian children were used as human shields by Israel forces and one as a combatant by Palestinian factions, according to the report.

In Yemen, the report states that 1,596 violations against 637 children were verified in 2022. Among those violations is the recruitment of 105 children by the various parties to the conflict.

The report has also verified 2,438 violations against 2,407 children in Syria, of which 1,696 were recruited by armed groups across the country, with the majority — 637 — being recruited by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In 2019, the SDF signed an action plan with the UN to put an end to the recruitment of minors. Residents of the SDF-controlled areas can file a complaint with local authorities if they suspect that children have been recruited.

An official from one of the child protection offices run by the SDF-affiliated local administration told The Associated Press that groups are still recruiting children in the area. However, the official said residents’ complaints are looked into and authorities have managed to locate and return four minors found among the SDF’s ranks in the first five months of this year.

The United Nations also mentioned in its report that more than 600 children were detained by government forces, opposition parties and others. A total of 711 children were killed or maimed by the same parties.

“I urge all parties to end and prevent grave violations and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” Guterres added.

The 12-year war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. As many as 25,546 children have been killed in the conflict, according to March data from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Schools and hospitals have been repeatedly targeted throughout the war. The UN verified 17 attacks on these institutions in 2022.

Although President Bashar al-Assad has regained much of the country’s territory in past years, northern Syria remains outside his control. His forces, backed by Russia, often carry out strikes in the area.

On Tuesday, eight militants belonging to al-Qaeda-affiliated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which controls the northwest province of Idlib, were killed in Russian airstrikes in Jabal al-Zawiya.

Earlier on Sunday, Russian airstrikes hit a busy market in Jisr al-Shughour, also in Idlib, killing at least 13 people, including two children. SOHR head Rami Abdel Rahman condemned the strikes as a “massacre.”

Source » al-monitor