News ID: 96981
Publish Date : 24 November 2021 - 21:18

LONDON (Al-Jazeera) - West and Central Africa is the region with the highest number of child soldiers in the world, as well as the most underage victims of sexual violence, according to a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Since 2016, the region has been hit by growing conflict in which more than 21,000 children have been recruited by government forces and armed groups, the report said.
In addition, more than 2,200 children have been verified as victims of sexual violence during the past five years, it added. Meanwhile, some 3,500 children have been abducted, making it the region with the second-highest abductions in the world, while there have been at least 1,500 attacks on schools and hospitals.
Overall, the UN’s children agency said more than 57 million children in the region are in need of humanitarian assistance, a number that has doubled since last year as a result of conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Whether children in West and Central Africa are the direct targets or collateral victims, they are caught up in conflict and face violence and insecurity,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa.
“The grave violations of their rights perpetrated by parties to the conflicts are unacceptable. They have an adverse impact on their capacity to learn, work, build meaningful relationships and contribute to the development of their communities and countries,” Poirier added.

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