One child in four victim of conflicts and natural disasters

In a report presented by the UN it emerges that 357 million minors are involved in bloody conflict. The worst situation in Yemen, Mali and South Sudan. Unicef: situation " almost beyond comprehension". Unanimously approved resolution considers child soldiers as first victims. And highlights the different treatment needs between males and females. In 2017, over 21 thousand cases of violations.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - A quarter of the world's children - about 535 million in total - live in nations affected by wars or disasters, both natural and otherwise. And there are at least 357 million children involved in conflicts. This is what emerges from an investigation published in recent days by UNICEF and illustrated by its Executive Director Henrietta Fore, during a meeting at the UN Security Council focusing on children and armed conflicts. A situation, the expert warns, that goes " almost beyond comprehension" and involves at least one child out of four in total.

Addressing the representatives of the 15 member countries of the Council, the senior UN official recalled the situation of children and young people whose lives are devastated by conflict, especially in Yemen, Mali, South Sudan and Syria. Fore also recalled the tragedy of child soldiers, recruited to fight or killed by anti-personnel mines or during attacks on their schools.

"The danger - she warns - is that they can lose hope not only in their future, but also in the future of their own countries".

Sweden, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, organized the open meeting on the theme “Protecting Children Today Prevents Conflict Tomorrow” and sponsored a resolution unanimously adopted by the 15 members to strengthen U.N. actions to ensure the care and safety of youngsters.

For the first time, children recruited or involved in conflicts must be treated, first of all, as victims and not as primary actors in the context of fighting. The resolution also calls on all nations to "consider extra-judicial measures and alternative measures to imprisonment or criminal prosecution" instead targeting "recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration" into the society of minors "previously hired by armed forces or groups ".

Furthermore, the resolution emphasizes - even this is an absolute first - that the needs and difficulties of boys and girls are different and require different answers. In this sense, physical and mental education and care become essential.

Virginia Gamba, UN special representative for children and armed conflicts, said she was "deeply troubled" by more than 21 thousand violations against minors and their rights in 2017. A "significant" increase compared to the previous year, when 15,500 violations were registered. "Most of these cases - she warns - are the work of armed groups, even if the governments themselves and other actors play an important role".