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May 29, 2024

UNICEF laments rise in violence against children in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger

UNICEF laments rise in violence against children in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger

UNICEF on Wednesday condemned a “distressing” 70 percent rise in grave violence against children in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, countries plagued by jihadists and other armed groups.

The three Sahel states are all under military rule after experiencing coups since 2020, with civilians caught in a spiral of clashes between jihadists, community militias, bandits, regular armies and their auxiliaries.

Mali is also facing a separatist insurrection.

“In the last three months of 2023, grave violations against children in the central Sahel increased by more than 70 percent compared with the previous three months,” said Gilles Fagninou, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

Most cases consisted of the recruitment and use of children in armed groups, killing and maiming, he added.

“The distressing rise in violent incidents in the central Sahel region… must stop if children are to realise their basic rights to life,” Fagninou said.

The region’s violence is compounded by extreme poverty, acute food insecurity and deep political crises.

A UN report on children and armed conflict published in June 2023 reported that 423 children were killed in 2022 in attacks by groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State group or security forces — mainly in the Sahel.

The 2023 report is expected at the end of June.

AFP

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