UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called out Russia today (June 22) for killing 136 children in Ukraine in 2022, adding its armed forces to a global list of offenders, according to a report to the U.N. Security Council seen by Reuters.
The United Nations also verified that Russian armed forces and affiliated groups maimed 518 children and carried out 480 attacks on schools and hospitals. Russian armed forces also used 91 children as human shields, according to the report.
Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
The report also verified that Ukrainian armed forces killed 80 children, maimed 175 children and carried out 212 attacks on schools and hospitals. The Ukrainian armed forces are not on the global offenders list.
Guterres said in the report that he was “particularly shocked” by the high number of children killed and maimed and attacks on schools and hospitals by Russian armed forces.
He also said he was “particularly disturbed” by the high number of such offenses against children by Ukrainian armed forces.
Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Guterres’ annual report to the 15-member Security Council on children and armed conflict covers the killing, maiming, sexual abuse, abduction or recruitment of children, denial of aid access and targeting of schools and hospitals.
The report was compiled by Virginia Gamba, Guterres’ special representative for children and armed conflict.
Gamba last month visited Ukraine and Russia, where she met with Russia’s envoy for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova – whom the International Criminal Court wants to arrest on war crimes charges.
The International Criminal Court last month issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lvova-Belova, accusing them of illegally deporting children from Ukraine and the unlawful transfer of people to Russia from Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, 2022.
Moscow said the warrants were legally void as Russia was not a signatory to the treaty that established the ICC.
The U.N. report on children and armed conflict verified the abduction of 91 children by Russian armed forces; all of them were subsequently released. The report also verified the transfer of 46 children to Russia from Ukraine.
Moscow has not concealed a program under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the war zone.
The report on children and armed conflict includes the list intended to shame parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to implement measures to protect children. It has long been controversial, with diplomats saying Saudi Arabia and Israel exerted pressure in recent years in a bid to stay off the list.
Israel has never been on the list, while a Saudi-led military coalition was removed from the list in 2020 several years after it was first named for killing and injuring children in Yemen.
In an effort to dampen controversy surrounding the report, the list released in 2017 by Guterres was split into two categories. One lists parties that have put in place measures to protect children and the other includes parties that have not.
Russia was placed on the list of parties that have put in place measures aimed at improving the protection of children.
The report found that Israeli forces killed 42 children and injured 933 children in 2022. Israel is not the offenders list.
“I note a meaningful decrease in the number of children killed by Israeli forces, including by air strikes,” Guterres wrote. “Nevertheless, I remain deeply concerned by the number of children killed and maimed by Israeli forces.”
The report overall verified that 24,300 violations had been committed against children in 2022.
The most violations were verified in Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Yemen.
“While non-state armed groups were responsible for 50 per cent of the grave violations, government forces were the main perpetrator of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access,” Guterres said in the report.