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UN Report: Over 32,000 Grave Violations Against Children in 2023

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, briefs reporters at UN Headquarters.| UN Photo/Mark Garten
Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, briefs reporters at UN Headquarters.| UN Photo/Mark Garten

By: ATN News

United Nations: The 2024 Annual Report on the grave violations suffered by children in 2023 reveals a grim escalation in violence against children in conflict zones. The report, presented by Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG CAAC), indicates a 21% increase in grave violations compared to previous years. UN personnel, through the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM), verified a total of 32,990 violations against children across 25 CAAC situations and one regional monitoring arrangement in the Lake Chad basin.

Key Findings

Scale of Violations

Out of the total violations, 30,705 occurred in 2023, while the remaining were from previous years but verified only last year. These violations affected 22,557 children, including 6,252 girls. Notably, there was an alarming increase in the number of children subjected to multiple grave violations, particularly in cases of abduction for recruitment and sexual violence.

Types of Violations

The most prevalent violations were:

1. **Killing and Maiming**: 11,649 children.

2. **Recruitment and Use**: 8,655 children.

3. **Abduction**: 4,356 children.

Additionally, there were 5,205 verified incidents of the denial of humanitarian access to children, marking a 32% increase. Rape and sexual violence against children, alongside attacks on schools and hospitals, also rose significantly, with 1,470 cases of conflict-related sexual violence and 1,650 attacks on educational and healthcare facilities.

Patterns and Trends

Geographic Hotspots

Substantial increases in grave violations were reported in several regions:

- **Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory**: Over 155% increase, especially in Israel, Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

- **Sudan**: A staggering 480% rise, particularly in Khartoum and Darfur.

- **Myanmar**: A 123% increase, with significant spikes in Rakhine.

Violations also increased in Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, Lebanon, Nigeria, and Somalia.


Approximately 50% of violations were committed by armed groups, including UN-designated terrorist organizations, while the rest were by state actors and unidentified perpetrators. Armed groups were mainly responsible for abductions, recruitment, and sexual violence, whereas state actors were primarily responsible for killings, maiming, and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Military Use of Civilian Facilities

A disturbing trend highlighted in the report is the continued use of schools and hospitals for military purposes, exacerbating risks to children and denying them essential services.

Detention of Children

The report underscores the plight of children detained for their association with armed groups. It emphasizes that detention should be a last resort and for the shortest period, urging member states to treat such children primarily as victims and to allow child protection actors access to them.

Listing Decisions

This year’s listings by the Secretary-General reflect the severity of the situation:

- **Sudan**: Both the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces were listed for multiple grave violations.

- **Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory**: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were listed for violations including killing, maiming, and abduction, while Israeli forces were listed for killing, maiming, and attacks on civilian infrastructure.

- **Non-State Armed Groups**: Several groups in Burkina Faso, DRC, Mali, and other regions were listed for various grave violations.

Progress and Positive Developments

While no delisting's occurred, progress was noted in several countries, including Iraq, Mozambique, the Philippines, South Sudan, Ukraine, and Yemen, where decreases in violations were observed. Engagement with parties to conflict in various regions led to measures aimed at better protecting children.

More than 10,600 children formerly associated with armed forces or groups received reintegration support in 2023. The decision of groups such as the Opposition Syrian National Army to sign action plans with the UN is expected to release hundreds of children from military ranks.


The report paints a bleak picture of the increasing severity and complexity of armed conflicts and their devastating impact on children. Despite the challenges in monitoring and reporting, the UN emphasizes the need for continued and enhanced efforts to protect children in conflict zones. The report calls on all parties to conflict to develop and implement action plans with the UN to prevent and end grave violations against children.


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