from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – ARMED groups recruited nearly 8 600 minors as child soldiers in 2020.
This equates to 25 children recruited per day and is a 10 percent increase from the previous year.
According to Save the Children, these figures verified by the United Nations are likely to represent only a fraction of actual cases.
The number of armed groups recruiting children rose during the pandemic to 110, compared to 85 in 2019.
This spike was driven partly by outbreaks of violence in Mozambique, as well as ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Yemen.
These countries are already on the frontline of climate change’s worst impacts and coping with life-threatening hunger crises.
A report by Save the Children, titled “Stop the War on Children: A Crisis of Recruitment”, also revealed that 337 million children were living near armed groups and government forces that recruit children.
This is a threefold increase from three decades ago (99 million in 1990).
The number of countries where children are recruited—and where more than half the world’s children (nearly 1.3 billion) live—also jumped to 39, its highest in 30 years.
While girls only made up 15 percent of UN-reported cases of recruitment in 2020, they are often targeted to act as spies, to lay mines and improvised explosive devices, or to act as suicide bombers.
Inger Ashing, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International, expressed horror that in the shadow of COVID-19 and the UN’s call for a global ceasefire, more children than ever before were caught in deadly war zones.
“Millions of children have known nothing but war with appalling consequences for their mental health, ability to go to school, or access to life-saving services. This is a stain on the international community and cannot go on,” Ashing said.
– CAJ News