25 years and A Long Way To Protect Children From Conflicts

Despite the world fighting against grave violations against children in armed conflicts in the last 25 years, much remains to be done to protect the children from such consequences.

In a new report – 25 years of children and armed conflict, the UNICEF outlines grave violations committed against children and calls for mobilising all concerned stakeholders, including parties to conflict, States, and the UN Security Council, to effectively and sustainably protect children and to accelerate action at local, national, regional and global levels.

The analysis shows the impact that armed conflicts continue to have on children twenty-five years after the Graca Machel report and highlighted some key avenues to effectively end and prevent grave violations against children and to increase the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.

In the report, the UNICEF said “despite global mobilisation, today more than ever, children continue to suffer from the scourge of war. Verified violations against children have continued unabated since 2005, surpassing 20,000 in a year for the first time in 2014 and reaching 26,425 in 2020. In the past five years, the daily global average of verified grave violations stood at an alarming 71 violations.”



  1. Since 2005, more than 104,100 children have been verified as killed or maimed.
  2. More than two-thirds of these incidents have been verified by the UN between 2014 and 2020, with an average of 10,500 children killed or maimed each year.
  3. Between 2016 and 2020, 14 per cent of all child casualties – 7,350 children-were a result of missiles and bombs dropped during aerial attacks. 5.
  4. In 2020 alone, explosive weapons and explosive remnants of war were responsible for at least 47 per cent -or about 3,900 cases – of all child casualties.
  5.  Between 2016 and 2020, 79 per cent of all verified child casualties – or about 41,900 children – occurred in only five countries: Afghanistan (30%), Israel and the State of Palestine (14%), Syria (13%), 7. Yemen (13%) and Somalia (9%).


1. Since 2005, more than 93,000 children have been verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict

2. Children were most affected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan.

3. In 2020, steep increases in recruitment and use were seen in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, and Myanmar.

4. The total number of children verified as detained for their alleged or actual association with parties to conflict or security reasons has gradually increased to an average of 3,000 each year from 2016 to 2020, three times the average observed in the previous five years.


1. Nearly three-fourths of these incidents concerned education facilities, personnel, and pupils, with an annual average of 873 attacks, including 1,032 between 2016 and 2020.

2. Attacks against hospitals increased since 2014, with an annual average of 347 verified incidents 3. (321 in 2020)

3. Between 2016 and 2020, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria were the most affected countries, accounting for 52 per cent of all incidents.

4. Between 2005 and 2020, the UN verified at least 2,100 incidents of military use of schools and hospitals, with the vast majority (96%) affecting schools.


  1. Since 2005, more than 25,700 children have been verified as abducted. Two-thirds of the UN-verified cases over the past 16 years have occurred between 2014 and 2020, with an annual average of 2,414 abducted children (3 202 in 2020)
  2. Boys account for three-quarters of verified instances of abducted children However, girls remain at risk of being abducted, including for the purpose of sexual violence and exploitation
  3. 89 per cent of all cases recorded in six countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia South Sudan, and Syria
  4. Incidents of abduction were predominantly committed by non-State actors, accounting for 90 per cent of all verified cases


1. Since 2005, more than 14,200 children have been verified as subjected to rape and other sexual violence

2. The annual average is 890 child victims with the highest record standing at 1268 in 202).

3. Sexual violence disproportionately affects girls who were victime in 97 per cent of cases in the last five years.

4. Verified cases of sexual violence against boys were recorded in about half of all conflict situations with the highest numbers recorded in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen

5. Between 2016 and 2020, non-State actors were the main perpetrators of sexual violence, including 56 per cent in 2020. State actors were responsible for about 30 per cent of verified cases

6. Between 2016 and 2020, sexual violence was predominantly verified in six conflict situations – Somalia, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, and Nigeria


1. Since 2005, more than 14,900 incidents of denial of humanitarian access have been verified

2. Around 80 per cent of incidents took place in the past five years. Of those attributed, more incidents were verified as having been committed by non-State actors (47%), closely followed by State actors (42%).

3. The largest number of incidents have been verified in the Central African Republic, Israel and the State of Palestine.


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