This is the conclusion of the first report of the Secretary-General on the situation of children in Mali, presented today to the Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict by Leila Zerrougui, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
The report covers the period from January 2012 to December 2013 and details grave violations against children committed by all armed groups active in the North, and to a lesser extent, by the Malian armed forces and pro-government militias. Children have been recruited and used, victims of sexual violence, killed and maimed. Schools have been looted, damaged, bombed, used for military purposes or littered with unexploded ordnances, therefore violating children’s right to education.
“The situation in Mali has evolved significantly and I commend the Malian authorities for the important progress achieved at the political and security levels. This has contributed to a decrease in the scale and ferquency of grave violations against children,” said Leila Zerrougui.
The Special Representative welcomed steps taken by the Government of Mali to enhance the protection of children. The Protocol on the handover of children associated with armed forces or groups and the inter-ministerial Circular on the protection of children released from armed forces and groups provide a sound framework to assist children affected by the armed conflict.
“However, I remain concerned at the lack of accountability for grave violations, as well as the cases of detention of minors for charges related to the conflict,” added Leila Zerrougui.
She encourages the Malian authorities, with the support of the United Nations, to address these cases immediately.
As the country is transitioning towards stabilization, and as dialogue with armed groups is revived, the Special Representative called all involved in the mediation process to ensure children’s needs are taken into account.
“I encourage the Malian authorities to work with the United Nations and partners to ensure that MNLA and other armed groups fully commit to ending and preventing grave violations against children,” said Ms. Zerrougui.
The Special Representative concluded by calling on the Government to fully apply the joint mechanism developed to screen the Malian armed forces, so that no child is integrated into the country’s armed forces and for the development of measures to prevent grave violations against the children of the country.
Source: Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict