AMMAN, November 18, 2022 – November 20 is World Children’s Day, the annual commemoration of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which provides a universal set of standards that all countries must adhere to – including the principle of non-discrimination; the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in all actions relating to children; the right of the child to express his or her opinion freely; and, crucially, the child’s inherent right to life.
As this date approaches, children in the Middle East and North Africa are facing a new surge in violence. Since the beginning of this year, nearly 580 children have died in conflict or violence in various countries in the region – an average of more than 10 children per week. Many more are injured. This is an unacceptable reality.
Children in the region continue to suffer the devastating effects of protracted conflicts, intercommunal violence, explosive ordnance and war remnants, and political and social unrest that pervades several countries, including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.
Just this week, two young girls were found brutally murdered in the Al-Hol camp in northern Syria – just the latest act of horrific violence in the camp. Although a UN-backed ceasefire in Yemen led to a significant reduction in the intensity of the conflict and casualties, the ceasefire expired in October and children continue to be attacked. In Sudan, the conflict in the Blue Nile and Western Kordofan states has again left children vulnerable and exposed to violence.
In Iran, UNICEF remains deeply concerned by reports of the killing, wounding and detention of children. Despite a lack of official data, an estimated 50 children have reportedly lost their lives in Iran’s public unrest since late September. The latest of such horrific losses was 10-year-old Kiyan who was shot dead while in the car with his family. This is frightening and must stop.
Earlier this week, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl was killed near Ramallah, bringing the number of children killed in the state of Palestine since the beginning of the year to 49. In Libya earlier this year, violence in Tripoli killed at least three children. Meanwhile, in Iraq, explosive munitions from previous conflicts continue to endanger the lives of children, with 65 children killed and injured this year.
UNICEF is concerned that children continue to pay a high price for violence and conflict. States parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child have a duty to protect children in situations of conflict and violence and to guarantee their right to life and freedom of expression.
The right of children to be protected from violence must be respected at all times and by all parties to conflict. Violence is never a solution and violence against children is never justifiable.
Notes to Editors:
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has become the most ratified human rights treaty in history. In the past 33 years, 196 countries have become parties to the treaty.
World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children. The day is celebrated on November 20 every year, coinciding with the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The day aims to raise awareness and money for the millions of children who are denied their rights, and to promote the voice of young people as crucial to all discussions about their future.