from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA – MORE than 11 000 children have been killed or maimed while over 4 600 others have been raped in conflicts across Africa between 2014 and 2018.
Armed groups have recruited 24 000 other children during the period.
More than 3 500 schools and hospitals have been attacked, further endangering the lives of minors.
There have been more than 55 882 grave violations against children in conflict-afflicted countries.
Save the Children, which advocates for the rights of minors, disclosed the figures ahead of the African Union’s (AU) 33rd Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that began on Sunday.
The figures are contrary to the AU’s flagship campaign, “Silencing the Guns”, launched in 2013.
Doris Mpoumou, Save the Children’s representative to the AU, said while some limited progress had been made, conflict and insecurity still plague Africa.
“As always, children are on the frontline,” Mpoumou said.
She said while the commitment to “Silencing the Guns” was commendable, leaders must add urgency to their work.
“Real action needs to be taken to stop the war on children,” Mpoumou said.
On a positive note, South Sudan’s government has signed an Action Plan to end and prevent all grave violations against children.
Virginia Gamba, the United States envoy on Children and Armed Conflict, welcomed the landmark plan.
“Ultimately, peace remains the best protection possible from hostilities for boys and girls and the only road to sustainable development,” Gamba said.
The UN and partners facilitated the release of at least 280 children from armed groups in 2019 in South Sudan.
– CAJ News