[JURIST] UNICEF [official website] said [press release] Tuesday that approximately 24 million children living in crisis zones are out of school, further threatening the future of their societies. Nearly one in four children between the ages of six and 15 in conflict are out of school. South Sudan has the largest number with 51 percent of children out of school, followed by Niger (47 percent), Sudan (41 percent) and Afghanistan (40percent). UNICEF Chief of Education Jo Bourne [official profile] said that "children ... [n]ow unable to learn even the basic reading and writing skills, ... are at risk of losing their futures and missing out on the opportunity to contribute to their economies and societies when they reach adulthood." The press release noted that because of the difficulty of collecting data on children in high conflict areas, the numbers listed might be inaccurate.
Last year UNICEF announced [JURIST report] a plea to raise $14 million in an effort to support the thousands of children migrating to Europe from war-torn Middle Eastern nations. In July Human Rights Watch accused Syria's main Kurdish militia of violating [JURIST report] the child soldier ban under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Specifically, Article II of the Protocol states that "Parties shall ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces. states that children under the age of 18 should not be recruited to armed groups for any reason." Earlier last year the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Juan Méndez called for modifications and alternatives to the detention processes [JURIST report] of children in order to ensure their human rights.