TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - A total of more than 21,000 violations of children's rights were reported in 2017 — a sharp increase from the previous year, according to the annual "Children and Armed Conflict" report.
The U.N. blames a U.S.-backed Arab coalition fighting in Yemen for at least half of the more than 1,300 child deaths or injuries recorded in that poor nation. They were victims of aerial and ground attacks by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on Houthis.
Among the casualties tallied in the report were child soldiers as young as 11 fighting in Yemen's civil war and in other countries, the U.N. said.
"The point is, these kids should not be treated like children of a lesser God; they deserve the same rights as every kid to live their lives at least meaningfully and to be given a chance at recovery," said Virginia Gamba, the U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict.
She said the report left U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres feeling "outraged."
The 21,000 violations of children's rights included 10,000 who were slain or maimed, especially in Iraq, Myanmar, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the report said.
The total was a dramatic increase from 15,500 such cases counted in 2016. "The secretary-general is outraged at this number, a significant increase compared to previous years," said his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric.
Gamba said government forces in various nations were responsible for about 9,000 violations.
"The report details the unspeakable violence children have been faced with, and shows how in too many conflict situations, parties to conflict have an utter disregard for any measures that could contribute to shielding the most vulnerable from the impact of war," Gamba said. "When your own house or your school can be attacked without qualms, when traditional safe havens become targets, how can boys and girls escape the brutality of war? It's despicable."