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Sudan army, RSF added to UN blacklist for killing children

June 12, 2024 at 9:35 am

Internally displaced Sudanese citizens suffer humanitarian aid shortage as they take shelter in a school building after migrating to the east due to the ongoing civil war between the army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Port Sudan, Sudan on January 03, 2024 [Ömer Erdem – Anadolu Agency]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres yesterday named and shamed Israel’s armed and security forces and Sudan’s warring parties for killing and maiming children in 2023, adding them to an annual global list of offenders for violations against children, Reuters reports.

In a report to the UN Security Council Guterres also called out the armed forces of Israel and Sudan for attacking schools and hospitals and Hamas and Islamic Jihad for abducting children.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, who have been fighting the Sudanese Armed Forces since April last year, was also named for recruiting and using children, committing rape and other sexual violence and attacking schools and hospitals.

The report, compiled by Guterres’ envoy for children and armed conflict Virginia Gamba, covers six grave violations – killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, recruitment and use, denial of aid and attacks on schools and hospitals.

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The list attached to the report aims to shame parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to implement measures to protect children. It only reports on violations verified by the United Nations.

“In 2023, violence against children in armed conflict reached extreme levels, with a shocking 21% increase in grave violations,” the report read. “The number of instances of killing and maiming increased by a staggering 35%.”

“The highest numbers of grave violations were verified in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Nigeria and Sudan,” found the report, describing verification as “extremely challenging.”

Russia’s armed forces and affiliated groups stayed on the list, after being added last year, for killing and maiming children in Ukraine and attacking schools and hospitals.

Russia’s UN mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Moscow has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine in 2022.

The report attributed 5,698 violations to Israel’s armed and security forces, 116 to Hamas and 21 to Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The UN verified the killing of 2,267 Palestinian children – most in Gaza between 7 October and 31 December – but said the process of determining attribution was ongoing, adding: “Most incidents were caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by Israeli armed and security forces.”

There were 371 verified attacks on schools and hospitals in 2023, of which Israel’s forces were responsible for 340, according to the report. The UN also verified five instances of military use of ambulances by Israeli forces.

Israel’s invasion and bombardment of Gaza since October 2023 has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Thousands more are feared buried dead under rubble, with most of the 2.3 million population displaced.

In Sudan, the UN verified 1,721 violations – including the killing of 480 and maiming of 764, most during crossfire between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. It also verified 85 attacks on schools and hospitals.

Sexual violence was verified against 114 girls in Sudan, of which the UN said the RSF was responsible for 57 cases.

Sudan’s armed forces and the RSF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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