Violence against children report "a very strong prevention tool"

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Children surrender their weapons during a ceremony formalizing their release from the SSDA Cobra Faction armed group, in Pibor, South Sudan (February 2015). Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2015-0201/Rich

There needs to be a greater emphasis on preventing violence against children to decrease "shocking levels of killing and maiming" of young people around the world.

That's one key conclusion of the Annual Report of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict for 2016, published on Friday.

Virginia Gamba, who serves as the UN chief's Special Representative on the issue, described the detailed report as a "very strong prevention tool".

More details from Matt Wells.

Children from conflict zones in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, are suffering an unacceptable level of violations, says the report.

Apart from death and injury, forced recruitment and the destruction of classrooms leave children's lives shattered during wartime.

Official figures documented at least 4,000 verified violations by government forces, and more than 11,500 by non-state actors, in the 20 countries covered by the report.

In Syria alone, the number of children recruited and used has doubled compared with 2015.

The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Gamba, said she was proactively trying to prevent the victimization of children by armed groups.

"The report now really acts as a warning tool. By engaging with parties and addressing violations, we are working to prevent violations and improve the dire plight of children caught up in armed conflicts so that they can be children, like they should, and not the innocent victims of despicable acts. The engagement with parties to conflict, is ongoing, thus making this report a very strong prevention tool."

Among the trends which are cause for concern, the report highlights the denial of humanitarian access for civilians, and the increasing use of militias and international coalitions in conflict areas.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'16"

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