Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July 2014, 16:05 GMT

UNICEF reports rising trend of violence against children in strife-torn countries

Publisher UN News Service
Publication Date 20 June 2008
Cite as UN News Service, UNICEF reports rising trend of violence against children in strife-torn countries, 20 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4860ae612.html [accessed 10 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports that child kidnappings are on the rise in several countries affected by violence – including Haiti where more than 50 children have been abducted so far this year – and are often carried out with impunity.

There have been cases of kidnapped children in Haiti being raped and tortured, and in some cases even murdered, the agency noted in a statement issued today.

Authorities in the small, impoverished nation suspect that criminal gangs in search of easy profits are responsible for many recent kidnappings. "Most of the perpetrators remain unpunished," UNICEF stated.

Earlier this month, the agency joined a national call across Haiti to halt the recent surge the number of child kidnappings. Over 50 children have been abducted in the first six months of this year, more than half of them girls.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (known as MINUSTAH) has been working with the national police force to dismantle criminal gangs wanted for kidnappings, murders and other crimes.

UNICEF also reports similar incidents in other countries, including the Central African Republic (CAR), where armed gangs have seized on the instability created by conflict to terrorize rural farms and communities, including by kidnapping children and holding them for ransom.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), thousands of children have been rounded up by armed groups and used as child soldiers or held in captivity as sexual slaves for extended periods of time, the agency notes.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has received reports that a growing number of children in Iraq have been recruited and used by militias and insurgent groups. "Girls are increasingly subject to murder, kidnapping and rape, or are being abducted and trafficked within or outside Iraq for sexual exploitation," it adds.

The agency stressed the need for concerted action to combat this growing problem, stating that "it is everyone's duty to ensure children are safe from harm, and governments have a responsibility to enact and enforce measures that provide a protective environment for all children."

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