The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:
The Secretary-General is disheartened at the increasing level of grave violations committed against children, as documented in the 2018 Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. Last year, the United Nations verified more than 24,000 grave violations committed against children, while thousands of others were pending verification due to resource and access constraints.
In the reporting period, girls and boys have again borne the brunt of new and protracted crisis and endured such violations as killing and maiming, recruitment and use by armed forces and armed groups, abduction, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access. The Secretary-General is particularly appalled at the number of children killed or maimed in the 20 country situations on the Children and Armed Conflict agenda last year, which has reached more than 12,000 boys and girls, an unprecedented level.
The Secretary-General urges all parties to conflict to strengthen their engagement with the United Nations and reminds them of their responsibility to protect children. Parties must ensure compliance with their obligations under international law, including the special respect and protection accorded to children affected by armed conflict by international humanitarian law. In the conduct of hostilities, parties to conflict must refrain from directing attacks against civilians, including children, and civilian objects. He reiterates that peace remains the best protection for children affected by armed conflict and calls on all parties and those who can influence them to work towards political agreements and solutions to resolve existing conflicts.
The Secretary-General commends the engagement of his Special Representative, her office and each country team with parties to conflict to end and prevent grave violations, resulting in tangible measures benefitting children in several contexts.