Tag: Syria

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Articles & StatementsBlogHuman Rights Defenders

4 June 2024: Remembering innocent children victims of international aggression

 

War zones expose children to daily dangers, denying them safety, education, food, and basic rights, necessitating urgent global humanitarian action. This year on International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression we remember the children of Gaza, Sudan, Myanmar, Turkiye, Syria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Nigeria.

Children residing in war zones around the world witness unimaginable horrors on a daily basis. It is unsafe for them to play outside, sleep at home, attend school, or go to hospitals for medical attention.

Children around the globe endure unspeakable horrors even adults find unbearable and they are innocently caught in the midst of warring parties. They are being subjected to sexual violence, and abduction and are being forced to join armed groups, all while being deprived of essential humanitarian aid.

UN Reports, in Gaza the number of children killed is higher than from four years of world conflict. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said “This war is a war on children. It is a war on their childhood and their future” [1]. More than 14,000 children have been reportedly killed and thousands have been injured. If not injured or killed children are deprived of essential needs, displaced and don’t have access to water, food and medicine. UNICEF had initially reported that “Rafah is now a city of children, who have nowhere safe to go in Gaza”. On the 26th of May 2024, the tents and shelters in Rafah have now been bombed which leaves no safe place for the children of Gaza. UNICEF reports that even wars have rules and no child should be cut off from essential services in accordance with international humanitarian law [2] reflecting that this is not a war but a genocide[3].

There is a silent war and famine going on in Sudan affecting innocent children. Human Rights Watch reports a gruesome incident where RSF Forces first shot the parents in front of their children and then piled up the children and shot them. They later threw their bodies into the river and their belongings after them[4].

To mark a year of brutality against Sudanese children, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued a media statement highlighting the violations resulting in 24 million children in Sudan being at risk of generational catastrophe. Among these children, 14 million are in dire need of humanitarian support, 19 million are out of school, and 4 million are displaced, according to UNICEF, making Sudan now the largest child displacement crisis in the world[5].

Since the military coup in 2021, the armed conflict, and the suffering and cruelty continue in Myanmar. Innocent children who are too young to comprehend the chaos around them, are caught in the midst of the conflict, malnourished and deprived of essential needs. UNICEF reports that 6,000,000 children are in need of humanitarian assistance [6].

A year after the deadliest earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria, children are still feeling the effects of the tragedy. Almost 7.5 million children in Syria still require humanitarian aid. 3.2 million children in Turkiye still need essential services as families are homeless and without access to essential services, including safe water, education, and medical care [7].

The human rights violations continue in Turkiye not only affecting innocent adults but affecting innocent children. Thousands of children are growing up in prison with their parents who are only detained due to Erdogan’s dictator regime in Turkiye. The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is dismantling human rights protections and democratic norms in Turkiye on a scale unprecedented in the 18 years he has been in office, said Human Rights Watch [8]. Recently, several girls under 18 were detained and subjected to psychological torture due to non-implementation of the Constitutional Court and ECHR rulings.

Ethiopia is facing multiple crises due to climate crises (flood and drought), armed conflicts, diseases and economic shocks. Floods have affected the education sector in the Somali region with the disruption of the schooling of over 66,000 children (32.3 percent girls) and damage/destruction to school infrastructure (56 out of 146 flood-affected schools). The scale of damage to the schools and the reported sheltering of IDPs on school grounds will prevent thousands of children from returning to school [9].

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the decades-long armed conflict continued to cause grave violations against civilians and children. The M23 committed more unlawful killings, rapes, other apparent war crimes and crimes against humanity in areas under their control [10]. Save the Children has reported that 78,000 children have been forced to flee their homes due to the escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)[11]. As armed conflict is a daily reality for the children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, these children are facing poverty, sexual violence, being abducted, deprived of food and water and even being trained as child soldiers [12]. UNICEF’s Director of Child Protection said “I met children who survived the horrors of recruitment and use by armed groups and the unspeakable trauma of sexual violence – atrocities that no one should experience, let alone children” [13].

On 8 May 2024, Save the Children reported that children in Haiti are being forced into armed gangs due to extreme hunger. According to the UN, between 30% to 50% of armed groups in Haiti currently have children within their ranks. Save the Children’s Food and Livelihood Advisor in Haiti said “The hunger situation is so desperate our staff are hearing stories of children joining deadly gangs just so they can get food to eat” [14].

OCHA reports that in Nigeria children are at risk of forced recruitment into armed groups when unaccompanied and separated from families, especially children of those considered to be formerly associated or affiliated with armed groups. Protection concerns continue more so for women and girls, who run a higher risk of being subject to violence, abduction, rape, gender-based violence, forced and child marriage, and other violations of their rights. Children in Nigeria face malnutrition on an incomprehensible scale, 1.53 million children under five years old are expected to face acute malnutrition and about 511,800 children are expected to face severe acute malnutrition, a life-threatening condition. [15]

On this international day of innocent children victims of aggression we remember all the innocent children who, instead of crying over lost toys, are crying due to fear, destruction, and violence. These children, born into a cruel world, deserve a childhood filled with love and safety, not suffering.

BY CEYDA KEMANCI

 

Sources:

[1] Gaza: Number of children killed higher than from four years of world conflict | UN News

 

[2] Children in Gaza need life-saving support | UNICEF

 

[3] Rights expert finds ‘reasonable grounds’ genocide is being committed in Gaza | UN News

 

[4] Children ‘piled up and shot’: new details emerge of ethnic cleansing in Darfur | Global development | The Guardian

 

[5] Sudan conflict: 24 million children exposed to a year of brutality and rights violations, UN committee says | OHCHR

 

[6] Myanmar-Humanitarian-SitRep-April-2024.pdf (unicef.org)

 

[7] One year after devastating earthquakes hit Türkiye and Syria, consequences continue to reverberate for affected children and families (unicef.org)

 

[8] Turkey: Erdoğan’s Onslaught on Rights and Democracy | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

 

[9] Ethiopia – Situation Report, 10 Jan 2024 | OCHA (unocha.org)

 

[10] World Report 2024: Democratic Republic of Congo | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

 

[11] DRC: AT LEAST 78,000 CHILDREN DISPLACED AND FAMILIES RIPPED APART AS FIGHTING ESCALATES | Save the Children International

 

[12] Children of the Democratic Republic of the Congo – Humanium

 

[13] DR Congo: Children killed, injured, abducted, and face sexual violence in conflict at record levels for third consecutive year – UNICEF

 

[14] Extreme hunger in Haiti forcing children into armed gangs – Save the Children – Haiti | ReliefWeb

 

[15] “Nigeria Humanitarian Needs Overview 2024 | OCHA (unocha.org)

statement-on-the-occasion-omens-of-women-day
Articles & StatementsCommitteeWomen’s Rights

Joint statement on the occasion of Women’s Day

As we approach International Women’s Day (8 March) this year, the theme of women’s equality is more urgent than ever. We have witnessed in the last year a backlash against women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality almost all over the world. We must come together as a global community to address the many challenges and injustices faced by women around the world if we want to attain our global goals of sustainable development and universal peace.

The COVID-19 crisis had already exacerbated pre-existing gender-based discrimination and violence. The world is yet to recover from the economic recession and change in employment practices that had a negative impact on women’s rights.

The recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has had a devastating impact on the rights and freedoms of women in the country. Women are being forced to stay at home and their access to education and healthcare is severely limited. Initial reports suggest that some 16 per cent of the women have lost their jobs after the takeover. The situation of women lawyers is particularly concerning as they are being hunted down by former prisoners released by the Taliban regime. It is our duty to stand in solidarity with these women and call for their rights to be protected and upheld.

In Iran, the ‘lift the veil’ movement has highlighted the systematic oppression of women in the country. The Iranian regime has been responsible for the deaths of many girls who have spoken out against the oppressive laws that restrict their freedom. Almost 1000 girls have been poisoned by toxic gas in Iran since the beginning of the protest, in what many believe is a deliberate attempt to force their schools to shut down and prevent the girls from reaching out to the public with their demands. We must demand that the Iranian government respect the rights of women and girls and take immediate action to stop these atrocities.

The Turkish government’s human rights record was already at the lowest of its history and much lower than any acceptable standard in a democratic society. Official statistics suggest that between 2015 and 2021, 97,721 women were tried under the anti-terrorism laws of Turkey, 24,945 of whom received prison sentences. Turkey’s antiterrorism laws are reportedly used to silence opposition in the country. Turkey’s prisons are overcrowded and women inmates are subjected to various forms of inhuman treatment, including sexual harassment, naked body search and psychological torture. Turkey’s resile from the Istanbul Convention encouraged impunity for crimes against women. Only in 2022, 334 women were killed by men and only a minimal number of these cases were solved.

The recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria has once again shown that women and children are often the real victims of natural or manmade disasters. There are already signs that the regime is discouraging civilian initiatives to participate and independently control the rehabilitation efforts. Access to social media has already been restricted in various locations. When an already authoritarian regime restricts participation and communication, there is enough reason to be concerned. The international community must put pressure on the Turkish government to ensure that women and girls of vulnerable populations are provided due support and resources they need to rebuild their lives.

In Ukraine, the ongoing conflict has had a particularly devastating impact on women. UN’s Refugee Agency’s figures suggest that 80 per cent of the displaces 8.3 million Ukrainians are women and girls. These women are often the targets of violence and sexual abuse and are left to bear the brunt of the war’s consequences. We must do everything in our power to support the women of Ukraine and ensure their voices are heard.

We must not forget the impact that western restrictions on immigration are having on women. Many women are being forced to leave their homes and families behind in search of a better life, only to face discrimination and hardship in their new countries. Even when the immigration stories that hit the newspaper headlines are about men, there are silent women and girls that will suffer the repercussions of those stories, unheard and unaided. We must call on governments to do more to support these women and provide them with the resources they need to thrive.

Women and girls lag behind by means of enjoying the developments in new technologies. The digital gap is wider for women and they are the victims of new forms of online violence and harassment. It is essential to ensure that new technologies incorporate a human rights-first approach and prioritise the protection of women and girls in their platforms.

In conclusion, as we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, let us remember that women’s equity is not a privilege, but a fundamental human right. Let us realize we cannot achieve gender equality without eradicating gender-based violence. Let us understand that with half of its population left behind, no society can reach its full potential.

We must stand together and demand that governments and other institutions take immediate action to address the many challenges and injustices faced by women around the world. Only then can we build a more just and equitable world for all.