By Emmanuel Nduka
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has listed Nigeria, Somalia, Congo and Chad, as countries with the highest cases of abduction of children and sexual violence in 2021.
UNICEF in a statement, said 2021 brought a spate of grave violations against children in both prolonged and new conflicts.
“Verified abductions were highest in Somalia, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the countries of the Lake Chad Basin (Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger).
“Verified instances of sexual violence were highest in the DRC, Somalia, and the Central African Republic,” the statement said .
According to Henrietta Fore, UNICEF’s Executive Director, children die on yearly basis as a result of callousness. She urged countries to ensure the safety of children.
“Year after year, parties to conflict continue to demonstrate a dreadful disregard for the rights and wellbeing of children.
“Children are suffering, and children are dying because of this callousness. Every effort should be made to keep these children safe from harm,” she said.
While statistics for grave violations against children for the year 2021 are yet to be revealed, about 26,425 grave violations against children were recorded and verified in 2020 by the United Nations.
“The first three months of 2021 saw a slight decrease in the overall number of verified grave violations, however, verified cases of abduction and sexual violence continued to rise at alarming rates – by more than 50 and 10 per cent, respectively – compared with the first quarter of the previous year,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, countries like Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Libya, Mozambique, and the Philippines have also been verified by the UN who meted grave violations against children.
“Ultimately, children living through war will only be safe when parties to the conflict take concrete action to protect them and stop committing grave violations.
“As we approach the end of 2021, I call on all parties to the conflict to end attacks against children, uphold their rights, and strive for peaceful political resolutions to war,” UNICEF further stated.