The recruitment of children remains a significant and deeply worrying issue with thousands of children recruited into conflicts around the world each year.
This timely report from Save the Children reinforces the findings of the UN Secretary-General's annual report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) which examines both trends and specific country situations, listing all armed groups that recruit and use children.
In the latest report covering 2020, the Secretary-General identified twenty one countries, in addition to the Lake Chad basin, where more than 26,000 grave violations against children were verified. The report highlights the recruitment and use of 8,521 children, the killing of 2,674 children, and the maiming of 5,748 children, as well as the gendered nature of the problem - 85 per cent of those recruited were boys, while 98% of sexual violence was perpetrated against girls.
5 of the countries in the UN report feature on the agenda of the Security Council and Ireland’s membership of the Council offers us an opportunity to play an active role.
At this year’s annual debate on Children and Armed Conflict in June, President Higgins delivered Ireland’s national statement, focusing on education, protection and accountability.
In the last month, Ireland delivered statements at two Arria formula meetings, the first on the issue of children without parental care in conflict, and the second focusing on the protection of education during conflict.
Ireland also strongly supported the recently adopted UNSC Resolution 2601 concerning the Protection of Education in Conflict and is also a signatory of the Safe Schools Declaration which outlines a set of commitments to protect education from attack.
Finally, Ireland continues to combat the use of child soldiers through our development programme, Irish Aid, which has a strong focus on access to education, particularly for girls, as well as on developing skills and livelihood opportunities.