UN Chief Names Russia for Violations Against Children in Ukraine

The United Nations’ secretary-general has named Russia in a report that lists perpetrators of grave violations against children for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, including the killing and maiming of children.

“I am particularly shocked by the high number of attacks on schools and hospitals and protected personnel, and by the high number of children killed and maimed attributed to the Russian forces and affiliated armed groups,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report sent Thursday to the U.N. Security Council. 

The Children and Armed Conflict report, which has not yet been published, names and shames perpetrators who recruit, kill, maim or abduct children, commit sexual violence against them, deny them humanitarian assistance, or attack schools and hospitals. Guterres’ special representative, Virginia Gamba, is mandated by the Security Council to work to prevent and end these grave violations. 

In the report, seen by VOA, the U.N. verified the killing of 136 children and the maiming of 518 in Ukraine, attributed to Russian forces and groups affiliated with them. It covers the period of January to December 2022. Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, but denies that it is targeting civilians.

The report says most of the casualties were caused by “the use of explosives with a wide-impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes in populated areas.”

Russia was also cited for 480 attacks on hospitals and schools in Ukraine.

In May, Gamba made a two-day visit to Moscow, where she met with senior officials to develop an action plan for preventing grave violations against children, her office said at the time in a press release.

In the annual report, Russia is listed in Annex II, Section B, which is designated for parties to conflicts who have put in place measures during the reporting period aimed at improving the protection of children. Annex I of the report is for parties who are doing nothing to stop violations. 

Gamba also visited Ukraine in May, where she discussed ways to better protect children. While Ukraine is not listed as a grave violator, the U.N. did verify at least 80 deaths and the maiming of 175 children attributed to Ukrainian parties.

“I urge Ukrainian armed forces to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” Guterres wrote in the report.

The 2022 report verified at least 27,180 grave violations against nearly 19,000 children in a number of countries experiencing conflict — an increase over the number of violations in 2021.

There were 2,985 confirmed killings of children. Grave violations were reported in countries including Burkina Faso, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar.

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