Child victims of war spiked in 2023 amid Gaza, Sudan crises: UN report

Violence against children in armed conflicts reached "extreme levels" in 2023, particularly in Gaza and Sudan, according to a forthcoming U.N. report obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

The United Nations' annual "Children in Armed conflict" report placed the Sudanese army as well as the rival Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on the blacklist for "the killing and maiming of children, and for attacks on schools and hospitals."

Also added to the blacklist were Israel and Hamas, with the war on Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks.

"In 2023, violence against children in armed conflict reached extreme levels, with a shocking 21 percent increase in grave violations," said the report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which is due to be published on Thursday.

The U.N. verified 30,705 violations committed against children last year, including 5,301 killings, 6,348 injuries, 8,655 instances of children recruited and used in conflicts, 5,205 denials of humanitarian access and 4,356 kidnappings.

"We've never verified so many violations against children as last year," said a senior U.N. official speaking on condition of anonymity.

In 2023, "children bore the brunt of multiplying and escalating crises that were marked by a complete disregard for child rights, notably the inherent right to life," the report said.

  'A long, long time to verify 

The conflict in the Middle East has led to a 155 percent increase in grave violations against children, the report said.

The U.N. verified that 43 Israeli children were killed in Israel and the West Bank during the Oct. 7 attack, and a total of 47 Israeli children were abducted by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

The report also confirmed the...

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