Unicef warns of increase in violence against children in the Sahel

Unicef ​​warns of increase in violence against children in the Sahel

Unicef ​​was moved this Wednesday, May 29 by an “alarming” increase of 70% in serious violence against children in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, Sahelian countries prey to jihadism and abuse by a multitude of armed actors.

“During the last three months of 2023, the number of serious violations committed against children in the central Sahel increased by more than 70% compared to the previous three months,” said Gilles Fagninou, director of the UNICEF for West and Central Africa.

“Most of these violations consist of the forced recruitment of children into armed groups, the exploitation to which they are subjected, murder and mutilation,” he added.

“This alarming increase must stop so that children can exercise their fundamental rights to life,” he said.

Countries prey to jihadism

The three countries are caught in the spiral of clashes between jihadist groups and the regular armies and their auxiliaries. Civilian populations suffer abuses from jihadists, community militias, villainous groups and also soldiers. Mali is also the scene of a separatist insurgency.

The violence goes hand in hand with extreme poverty, acute food insecurity and a deep political crisis. Since 2020, officers have taken power by force successively in the three countries.

A report in June 2023 from the United Nations on the impact of armed conflicts on children in the world reported the deaths in 2022 of 423 children attributable to groups affiliated with the Islamic State organization, Al-Qaeda, but also to security forces mainly in the Sahel.

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