António Guterres concerned about the recruitment of children by armed groups in India
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern over the recruitment of children by armed groups in India while saying that the UN has found “54 grave violations against 49 children” in conflict situations in India and the recruitment of 18 boys by terrorist groups in Kashmir in 2021.
A report on children and armed conflict released on Monday said 33 boys were being held by security forces in Kashmir for alleged association with “armed groups” – a euphemism for terrorist organizations – or for national security reasons.
The report said security forces killed five children and maimed 29, 19 of whom were injured by pellets used by the Central Reserve Police Force.
Four children were victims of “unidentified perpetrators”, seven of crossfire between “armed groups and unidentified perpetrators”, and four of crossfire and shelling across the line of control.
The report states that two teachers were killed by terrorists in Srinagar.
Giving a global picture, Guterres’ Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said, “Over 19,100 children were victims of grave violations in 2021 across the 21 countries and regional situations we monitored.”
António Guterres said he welcomed “the legal and administrative framework for child protection and improved access to child protection services in Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as progress in the establishment of a Jammu and Kashmir Commission for the Protection of Child Rights”.
“But”. he added, “I remain concerned about the risk of recruitment of children by armed groups in the affected districts.”
Guterres said India may be removed from the classification of situations of concern in his report due to increased cooperation between India and the UN.
He cited interaction between Gamba and the Indian government, including an inter-ministerial meeting in November and the appointment of a national focal point to strengthen child protection.
He added that he also welcomed the agreement for technical-level meetings with the UN this year “to identify areas of enhanced cooperation for child protection”.
The report lists Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and the Palestinian Territory, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as the areas where most serious violations have taken place.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and follow @arulouis)
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