'Children in armed conflict are most innocent victims': Ex-UN chief

'Children in armed conflict are most innocent victims': Ex-UN chief

'There should be no impunity for those who commit crimes against children anywhere in the world,' Ban Ki-moon says

By Diyar Guldogan

WASHINGTON (AA) - Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday that children in armed conflicts must be protected as they are "the most innocent victims."

"Children in armed conflict are the most innocent victims of all, and it is a universal moral obligation to protect them from harm and exploitation," Ban said at a Security Council meeting on children and armed conflict.

Ban, who is also deputy chair of an independent group of leaders known as The Elders that is working for peace, justice human rights and a sustainable planet, said it should be a "matter of shame" to every state represented in the Council that innocent children continue to pay such a "terrible price" in multiple conflicts being waged across the globe.

"I am shocked and outraged that grave violations against children rose 21% in 2023, with a 35% rise in the killing and maiming of children in the same period," he said.

The UN verified more than 8,000 grave violations against 4,247 Palestinian children and 113 Israeli children in 2023, reflecting the "shocking" scale and human cost of the conflict, he said.

"There should be no impunity for those who commit crimes against children anywhere in the world, whether they be states or armed groups, in autocracies or democracies. Such distinctions mean nothing to the parents of murdered children, nor should they to the institutions charged with upholding international justice," Ban stressed.

Calling on all member states to seize the opportunity to build a "better, safer" future for the children, Ban said: "Impunity for those who violate their fundamental rights must end. History will judge your efforts."

The UN recently released a report that shows a "shocking" rise in violations against children in conflict in 2023. The UN verified nearly 33,000 grave violations affecting more than 22,500 children, mainly boys, in 26 situations worldwide.




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