A senior United Nations official today hailed the action plan signed by the Government of Chad to end the use of children by the country’s security forces, while highlighting important next steps on the path to eradicating the scourge of child soldiers.

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has draw attention to what it describes as grave violations of children’s rights that are taking place every day in Somalia, which has been wracked by factional warfare since the collapse of the government 20 years ago.

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Violence in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has driven the number of child casualties to a new high, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today, noting that the main cause of children’s deaths were burns, chest injuries and internal haemorrhage resulting from blasts, shrapnel and bullets.

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An increasing number of parties to armed conflicts around the world are deliberately attacking schools or forcing them to close in a disturbing and growing trend, according to a United Nations report released today.

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A new United Nations report voices serious concern about the continued recruitment of children by armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) and calls for measures to address the ongoing “protection crisis” in the country.

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“Despite outcry from the international community, children continue to be the victims of the conflict in Libya. Last month, I called on all parties in Libya to protect children and to ensure that none were associated with any armed forces or groups. However, credible information on recruitment and use of children continues to be received by my Office daily.

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It is critical to prevent conflict-related sexual violence before it happens, a top United Nations official stressed today, stating that the problem warrants continuous consideration by the Security Council as it deals with fighting in countries such as Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

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There are a lot of boots to shine in heavily militarized Mogadishu, and a lot of boys to shine them, despite the risks of bombs, bullets and beatings.

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“My father is old. At home we did not have enough for everyone, so I wanted to better our situation and join the army to help my family and my mother... After one year with the armed group FSR [Front for the Salvation of the Republic], I became commander of a group of 50 fighters. Maybe I was made the commander because I am literate; I could write and read. Then I had to join the government forces when our commander... decided to join the Chadian government.”

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The United Nations envoy on sexual violence in conflict today underlined the role of the African leadership in combating sexual violence in the continent, and welcomed the commitment expressed by the African Union (AU) to ensure that the problem is eradicated.

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