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UN blacklists Russian forces for killing children, striking schools

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UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations put Russian forces on its annual blacklist of countries that violate children’s rights in conflict for killing boys and girls and attacking schools and hospitals in Ukraine, according to a new report.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in the report to the Security Council that he is ‘‘appalled’’ by the high number of ‘‘grave violations’’ against children in Ukraine in 2022, ‘‘shocked’’ at the number of attacks on schools and hospitals, ‘‘concerned’’ by the detention of children, and ‘‘troubled’’ that some Ukrainian children have been transferred to Russia.

The UN chief did not put Israel on the blacklist for grave violations against 1139 Palestinian children, including 54 killings last year – as supporters had hoped.

Instead, he welcomed Israel’s engagement with the UN special envoy for children in armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, and its ‘‘identification of practical measures including those proposed by the UN’’ to protect children.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, told reporters Guterres ‘‘made a big mistake’’ in not listing the most extreme government in Israel’s history.

‘‘It is very disappointing to the Palestinian people and to the Palestinian children,’’ he said.

The secretary-general said in the report that last year children were disproportionately affected by conflict. He said the UN verified grave violations against 13,469 children, including 2985 who were killed, in 24 countries and one region.

‘‘Grave violations’’ include the recruitment and use of youngsters by combatants, killings and injuries, sexual violence, abductions, and attacks on schools and hospitals.

Guterres said the spread of conflicts to new areas contributed to a 140 per cent increase in grave violations in Myanmar and a 135 per cent increase in South Sudan. An upsurge in activity by armed groups, including al-Qaida and the Islamic State, also caused a severe deterioration of the situation in the central Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, leading to an 85 per cent increase in grave violations.

Violations also increased in Colombia, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and Syria, the secretary-general said.

Guterres said the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups were listed for carrying out 480 attacks on schools and hospitals, and for killing children, in particular through their shelling and airstrikes on cities and town. The report said 136 Ukrainian children were killed and 518 injured.

The secretary-general urged Russian forces to abide by their obligations under international law and their own commitments to protect children, including by avoiding the military use of schools and hospitals, putting in place accountability and reparations measures, and exchanging information with the UN on all children in conflict-affected areas.

Guterres also urged Russia to ensure that no changes are made to the personal status of Ukrainian children, including their nationality.

Deportations of Ukrainian children have been a concern since Russia’s invasion, and the International Criminal Court increased pressure on Russia when it issued arrest warrants on March 17 for President Vladimir Putin and the Russian children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of abducting children from Ukraine.

The UN chief said he is also concerned by the number of grave violations against children by Ukrainian forces.

The report said Ukrainian armed forces were responsible for the deaths of 80 children and injuries to 175 others, as well as 212 attacks on schools and hospitals.

Article link:
Article source: The Age / Associated Press | Edith M Lederer | 24.6.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000

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