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Abuse of children in war condemned

The UN Security Council on Wednesday strongly condemned the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict.

The unanimous resolution was directed against abuses such as killing, maiming, sexual violence, abduction, forced displacement, and the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of international law.

It also condemned attacks on places that usually have a significant presence of children such as schools and hospitals, and called on all parties concerned to put an end to such practices.

The Council also expressed support for the ongoing work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, UN agencies and other organisations that deal with children affected by armed conflict.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was asked to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution to the Council by 31 July 2000.

Otunnu told the Council that over the last decade, two million children had been killed in wars, one million orphaned, six million seriously injured and over 10 million left with grave psychological trauma. Children in some 50 countries are suffering from the effects of war and its aftermath, he added.

Otunnu said words on paper could not save children and women in peril so energies must be shifted from the juridical project of elaborating norms to the political project of ensuring their application and respect on the ground.

According to Otunnu, a three-pronged approach is needed to stem the massive use of children as soldiers. Firstly, the minimum age for recruitment into armies should be raised from the present 15 to 18 years, he said.

Secondly, pressure must be put internationally on armed groups that abuse children, he said. Finally, the political, social and economic factors that create environments in which children are induced to become child soldiers must be addressed.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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