The UN has called upon all nations to step up against the involvement of minors in armed conflicts, on occasion of the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.
The International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers was marked on Feb.12 recalls that same date in 2002, when the Protocol of the Convention about the Right of the Children related to the Children’s involvement in Armed Conflicts came into force.
In an appeal marking the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, cautioned that thousands of children continue to be “abducted, recruited, killed or maimed in conflicts around the world,” including the ongoing wars in Syria and Mali.
“Children in conflict are separated from their families, are forced to kill, and experience violence and abuse,” Ms. Zerrougui stated in a joint news release issued with Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, adding that without serious attention to this issue, the “credibility of the international child protection system will suffer.”
While commending the progress made in fighting the scourge of child soldiers, Ms. Ashton called on Member States to join in the global effort to end forced conscription of minors.“Many countries and armed groups have signed action plans with the United Nations to end underage recruitment which have resulted in the release and reintegration of children, as well as the prosecution of perpetrators,” Ms. Ashton stated. “I urge other parties to follow suit with immediate effect.”
At least 300,000 boys and girls are involved in armed conflicts, some of them even under age 10.