At least 65,000 children have been released from armed forces and armed groups in the past 10 years, UNICEF said as leaders from around the world gathered in Paris on 21 Feb. to mark the anniversary of the Paris Commitments to end the use of children in conflict.
“Ten years ago the world made a commitment to the children of war and matched it with action – action that has helped give 65,000 children a new chance for a better life,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “But today’s meeting is not only about looking back at what has been accomplished – but looking forward to the work that remains to be done to support the children of war.”
Exact data on the number of children used and recruited in armed conflicts are difficult to confirm because of the unlawful nature of child recruitment. However, UNICEF estimates that tens of thousands of boys and girls under the age of 18 are used in conflicts worldwide.
Since 2013, an estimated 17,000 children have been recruited in South Sudan and up to 10,000 have been recruited in the Central African Republic.
In Nigeria and neighbouring countries, data verified by the UN and its partners indicate that nearly 2,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram in 2016 alone. Young girls have been used as suicide bombers by the militants.
Estimates show that of the 65,000 children released in the past 10 years, more than 20,000 were in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic, and over 1,600 children in Chad.