Attacks on children, schools and hospitals: global list of offenders

A soldier points his rifle at a little girl, a symbol of the specter of war and violence A soldier points his rifle at a little girl, a symbol of the specter of war and violence Geralt via Pixabay

The UN Secretary General's report for 2022 showed an increase in attacks and violations of international humanitarian law by 112%

Violations of international law regarding children and armed conflict fall into four categories: recruitment and use of children in armed groups or forces, killing and maiming, sexual violence, and abduction. As highlighted in the UN Secretary-General's latest annual report, in 2022 there were a total of 27,180 serious violations (that are known about) and a 112 percent increase in attacks on schools and hospitals compared to the previous year. More than 7,000 children were recruited into armed groups or forces and more than 8,000 were killed or maimed. 

Attacks on schools and hospitals and their widespread military use are an increasingly worrying trend. Basic services related to education and health, which should be considered areas of peace, are instead purposely chosen as targets and weapons of war. For the number of bombings and airstrikes on hospitals, schools and urban areas, and the amount of killing of children during the conflict, Russia is accused of a considerable crime, a charge explicitly mentioned in the report's annex. In this regard, the Secretary-General reminded that defensive responses must also be in accordance with international humanitarian law. 

As for the remaining list of global offenders, Israel and Palestine will not be added. Indeed, Virginia Gamba, the U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said that there was an important decrease in Israeli airstrikes in 2022 and that the warning not to repeat the urban assault on Gaza that occurred in 2021 was "sufficiently heeded." However, it still expresses much concern about the increase in violence in the West Bank, as well as in Haiti and Niger. 

Overall, among 24 different conflict situations, the countries with the highest number of violations were the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Yemen, while Myanmar, South Sudan and Burkina Faso saw "the worst deterioration."


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by Chiara Cacciatore

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