The United Nations said Monday in a report concerning grave violations committed against children in war zones that Ukraine has been added as a situation of concern and will be included in next year's publication. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo
July 11 (UPI) -- Tens of thousands of children in conflict zones last year became victims of grave abuses, including being killed, maimed and raped, the United Nations said Monday, with situations worsening for minors in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ukraine.
The U.N. verified 23,982 grave violations committed against 19,165 children, with the vast majority occurring during the last calendar year, the intergovernmental body said in its annual Children and Armed Conflict report released Monday/
The number of abuses committed last year equals to 65 being committed each day, it said.
Of the children affected, 5,555 were maimed and 2,515 were killed, making it the most commonly committed violation at more than 8,000 children, followed by the recruitment and use of 6,310 children and nearly 4,000 incidents where children were denied humanitarian access.
Another 2,864 children were detained for associations with armed groups, the report said.
"There is no word strong enough to describe the horrific conditions that children in armed conflict have endured," Virginia Gamba, special representative of the secretary-general for Children and Armed Conflict, said in a statement accompanying the report. "Those who survived will be affected for life with deep physical and emotional scars."
While the overall number of violations committed was similar to the report released for 2020, the U.N. documented sharp increases during 2021 in abductions as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence, which rose by 20%. Meanwhile, attacks on schools and hospitals increased by 5% during the pandemic, which saw schools closures and the military's use of them, it said.
Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Syria and Yemen were the countries where the greatest number of violations were verified, it said.
Overall, non-state groups were responsible for 55% of all violations and state forces for 25% with the remaining 20% being the result of children getting caught in crossfire, becoming victims of improvised explosive devices or explosive remnants of war.
Concerning Ukraine, which has been fending off a Russian invasion launched in late February, the report states it will be added as a situation of concern with immediate effect and will be included in next year's report. Ethiopia and Mozambique have also been listed as situations of concern.
Gamba said that despite the numbers, people should not be discouraged and use them as "a call to action."
"This should serve as an impetus to reinforce our determination to end and prevent grave violations against children," she said.
The report recommends strengthened engagement with parties to conflicts, reinforced child protection provisions and capacity in all relevant U.N. mandates, respect for international law and pursuit of accountability, among others, to limit the number of violations.
"In a world still affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and hit by scarcity of resources and protracted and new crisis, it is more critical than ever to act to protect our children and ensure their safety and better future," she said.