| 6 December 2023, Wednesday |

Syria is world’s worst country in recruiting, using children in armed conflict

The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) commented on a report by the UN Secretary-General on children, considering it a main source of information for violations against children in Syria through cooperation and partnership with the UNICEF’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM).

The UN report said Syria is reportedly the worst in the world in terms of recruiting and using children.

The Syrian regime and its allies topped the list of violations related to killing and maiming, while the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) came second.

The National Army led the armed opposition factions in recruiting children, followed by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and the SDF came third.

In June, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres submitted his annual report to the UN Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict in 2021.

The report underlined the trends regarding the impact of armed conflict on children and information on violations committed in several countries, including Syria.

It specified those engaged in the violations against children, namely the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, attacks on schools, hospitals and protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals, and the abduction of children.

The UN verified 2,271 grave violations against 2,202 children (1,824 boys, 235 girls, 143 sex unknown). In addition, 74 grave violations against 73 children (58 boys, 14 girls, 1 sex unknown) that occurred in previous years were verified in 2021.

In the report, it is noted that attacks or threats of attacks on community and civic leaders, on human rights defenders and on monitors of violations against children are a cause for concern and a strain on the monitoring capacity.

While Guterres’s report used the term “pro-government air forces,” the SNHR said it believes it would have been better to specifically identify the Russian forces, being the only ally of the Syrian regime with aerial capabilities.

The UN verified the recruitment and use of 1,296 children (1,258 boys, 38 girls), Most of who were used in combat, specifically 1,285 children.

The SNHR noted that this figure is higher than that recorded in Guterres’s previous report, which documented the recruitment and use of 837 children in Syria in 2020.

Monday’s report indicated that all Syrian opposition factions (the Syrian National Army) were responsible for the largest number of cases involving recruitment and use of children in this period, with 596 cases, followed by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham with 380.

The SDF came third by recruiting and using 245 children.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat