[JURIST] The UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG-CAAC) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday issued a joint press release [text] detailing the adverse effects increasingly brutal and intense conflicts have had on children. The press release, coming on the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers (Red Hand day) [official website], notes the main issue is the use of children as soldiers, as 57 of the 59 nations cited for violations against children recruit and use child soldiers. The groups called on parties to conflict to “meet their obligations under International Law” and for greater education and economic support to prevent further use of child soldiers. According to the UN, tens of thousands of children are used in armed conflicts in over 20 countries worldwide. Also detailed in the press release, children are used in the most extreme cases as suicide bombers and executioners in the Middle East, while in Africa children are being used as soldiers and sex slaves.
The use of children in conflict has been an ongoing issue around the world. Earlier this year the UN condemned [JURIST report] Boko Haram, calling for an end to terrorist attacks and the release of abducted child soldiers. Late last year the OSRSG-CAAC released a report stating that children were victims of violence and military recruitment [JURIST report] in 23 conflict zones around the world the year before. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report in June 2014 claiming that teenagers as young as 15 have been recruited by armed groups [JURIST report] in Syria with some becoming suicide bombers. Earlier that month the International Criminal Court [official website] confirmed war crimes charges against Congolese general Bosco Ntanga including the recruitment of child soldiers. In January of last year UNICEF reported that as many as 6,000 child soldiers may be involved [JURIST report] in the conflict in the Central African Republic.