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 UNICEF Reveals 226,000 Grave Violations Against Children

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United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
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By Evelyn Terseer, Abuja. 

Between 2005 and 2020, the United Nations verified over 266,000 grave violations against children committed by parties to conflict in more than 30 conflict situations across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America,

 According to UNICEF, this figure is a fraction of the violations believed to have occurred, as access and security constraints, among others, and the shame, pain, and fear that child and family survivors suffer often hamper the reporting, documentation and verification of grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict.

West and Central Africa is the region with the second highest number of verified violations since 2005 with more than 67,000 verified grave violations, accounting for a quarter of all violations globally. In the Central Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), conflict and insecurity have been major drivers of population displacement, which has put children further at risk of grave violations.

In these three countries, the number of verified grave violations increased by 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the last quarter of 2021. Hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed in recent attacks in Burkina Faso and Mali. 

UNICEF emphasized that 25 years of children and armed conflict:Taking action to protect children in war – found that between 2005 and 2020 in West and Central Africa more than 7,600 children have been verified as killed or maimed in situations of armed conflict; over 42,000 children have been verified as recruited and used by parties to conflict; at least 4,800 children have been verified as abducted by parties to conflict; parties to conflict have raped, forcibly married, sexually exploited, and committed other grave forms of sexual violence against at least 8,000 children.

 The United Nations verified more than 2,500 incidents of attacks against schools and hospitals and verified no fewer than 1,900 incidents of denial of humanitarian access for children since 2005 in West and Central Africa.

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In Nigeria there were 391 verified cases of grave violations against 306 children. These violations mainly occurred in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe States and were attributed to ISWAP and other armed groups. This is a 56 per cent increase in the number of grave violations against children (208) verified in 2020.

In most conflict areas in the West and Central Africa region, civilians continue to be targeted. This includes the deliberate targeting of frontline humanitarian workers who are finding it more difficult to deliver life-saving services and supplies to children in large parts of the Central Sahel and other conflict-affected areas of the region.

“Behind each of the violations detailed in the report is a child, his or her family and members of a community whose lives are torn apart, sometimes forever. We cannot remain indifferent and silent. The killing, abduction, and rape of girls and boys are horrific crimes. The increase in verified grave violations in the Central Sahel over the last quarter and their devastating impact on the wellbeing of children shows the need and importance of continuing our efforts to provide care to the victims and advocate for their immediate end. Attacks on civilians including children must be stopped and all measures for their protection, including during military operations, must be taken,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

Based on sixteen years of data from the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, the report illustrates the impact that armed conflicts have had on children, by presenting trends of grave violations across the world and over time. The report examines how information on the documented patterns of grave violations is being used to respond to children’s needs and how engagement with parties to conflict – State and non-State actors alike enables ending and preventing grave violations.

The annual number of verified violations in the world has gradually increased since 2005, surpassing 20,000 in a year for the first time in 2014 and reaching 26,425 in 2020. Between 2016 and 2020, the daily global average of verified grave violations stood at an alarming 71 violations. The elevated number of violations observed in recent years demonstrates the dramatic impact that armed conflict and increasingly complex and protracted protection crises have on children.

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The report notes that many children suffer from more than one violation, increasing their vulnerability. For example, abduction is often combined with or leads to other violations, particularly recruitment and use and sexual violence. Children especially girls who have been abducted and/or associated with parties to conflict are exposed to elevated risks of sexual violence, including rape, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

The report found that grave violations against children were committed by States and non-State actors alike underscoring the importance of engagement with all parties to conflict, to meaningfully end and prevent violations against children.

In order to bolster accountability, parties to conflict listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict develop and implement Action Plans with specific, concrete, and time-bound actions to establish sustainable measures to protect children from the impact of conflict. Between 2005 and 2021, a total of 16 Action Plans have been signed by parties to conflict in 6 conflict situations. 

14 Action Plans were signed with non-State actors, with the remaining 2 were signed with State actors. The report lays out several examples highlighting the critical value and impact of Action Plans in bringing about positive change for children, both in the immediate and long terms, as well as outlining challenges and obstacles.

The ever-growing number of armed non-State actors, the development and employment of new means and methods of warfare, the use of improvised explosive devices and other explosive weapons, particularly in populated areas, are just some of the many factors contributing to the creation of unprecedented challenges for the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.

It is important to note that the increase in verified violations over time also underscores the increasing strength of the monitoring and reporting mechanism over the years. The development of guidance on monitoring and reporting, the training and capacity building of UN and its partners’ staff on documenting grave violations, and the awareness raising of families and communities on the protection risks for children, have all contributed to strengthen the mechanism and enabled it to collect increased information on grave violations against children.

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Whilst the overall ability of the United Nations to document and verify incidents of grave violations has increased over time, it has fluctuated from one year to another, from one situation to another, and from one violation to another. In this regard, and based on all of the above, direct comparisons between situations, years, or violations should be undertaken with caution.

“Major humanitarian crises continue to unfold across West and Central Africa. The situation in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and multi-country emergencies, including crises in the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin region, are having devastating consequences on children and communities. Beyond the consequences for the victims, grave violations of children’s rights are often accompanied by massive population displacements that increase the vulnerability of thousands of people and expose more children to other risks of violence,” said Ms. Poirier.

The report recommendations, based on the evidence and analysis presented, aim to mobilize all concerned stakeholders, including parties to conflict, States, and the UN Security Council, to effectively and sustainably protect children and to accelerate action at local, national, regional, and global levels.

In addition to calling on parties to conflict, and states, to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, the report includes recommendations on how to better provide adequate care and response services to children affected by conflict,ways to improve data disaggregation and analysis for better response and prevention,how to support Country Task Forces on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMRs) to accelerate action, and improve CTFMR engagement with governments and ways to better engage with parties to conflict to develop Action Plans and sustainably protect children.

Education

FG Insists on Treasury Management – Minister 

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By Evelyn Terseer, Abuja 

The Minister of State for Education, Mr Goodluck Opiah has emphasized that treasury management is a must for any nation that targets sustainable development.

According to him, this is imperative because it is a strategic approach to optimising beneficial returns of innovative deployment of both public and private finance.

The Minister gave the affirmation at the inauguration of the Council of the Chartered Institute of Treasury Management (CCITM) in Abuja on Tuesday, noting that it would help to put in place preventive mechanisms to safeguard resources and ensure that there is value for money.

He pointed out that the supervision and management of cash flows and its balances will be better managed and utilised, better services from banks, proper allocation of funds will be achieved while fraud and embezzlement would be minimised.

The Minister said with the above mentioned benefits, the economy will function better with adequate financial resources appropriately allocated and disbursed.

“The Chartered Institute of Treasury Management is particularly important to the education sector because it will help ensure that finances allocated to the sector by government, civil society and nongovernmental organisations will be judiciously utilised for the achievement of the Ministry’s three focal areas of Access, Quality and Systems Strengthening and of course the timely attainment of the Ministry’s 10 Pillars of the Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan

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“I am very confident that the benefits and impacts of the establishment of this Institute will be positive on our society and the Nigerian economy when fully operational” he said.

Mr Opiah therefore reminded all stakeholders of the fact that Nigeria education must prepare and arm Nigeria’s youths to take competitive advantage of the 21st century knowledge-driven economy within and outside the country.

He believed that the operations of this Institute would help achieve this target.

The Minister implored the Council members to contribute their best to ensure that the vision, mission, mandates and functions of the institute as enshrined in the Act that established it are achieved for a better, more resourceful and sustainable development in Nigeria.

“I am very confident that the benefits and impacts of the establishment of this Institute will be positive on our society and the Nigerian economy when fully operational which include:-

“Supervision and management of cash flows and its balances will be better managed and utilized. There would be better services from banks. Proper allocation of funds will be achieved. Fraud and embezzlement would be minimized. Risk of loss in management of investment in liquid assets will be eliminated and Firms would operate at the minimum cost of funds possible within the economy of their domicile.

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“We all know that with the above mentioned benefits, the economy will function better with adequate financial resources appropriately allocated and disbursed.

“Chartered Institute of Treasury Management is particularly important to the education sector because it will help ensure that finances allocated to the sector by government, civil society and nongovernmental organizations will be judiciously utilized for the achievement of the Ministry’s three focal areas of Access, Quality and Systems Strengthening and of course the timely attainment of the Ministry’s 10 Pillars of the Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan (MSP).

“At this juncture, it is my singular honour and pleasure to officially inaugurate the Council of the Chartered Institute of Treasury Management, Nigeria. Congratulations” the Minister noted.

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Education

Kebbi Settles N456m WAEC fees – Commissioner

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The Kebbi State Government has approved the payment of remaining balance of more than N456 million to West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for the 2022 West African School Certificate Examination (WASC).

Dr Muhammadu Magawata-Aliero, Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education in the state, disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Birnin Kebbi, the state capital on Monday.

He said: “The Kebbi State Government has approved the payment of N456,596,000 to West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for the 2022 West African School Certificate Examination (WASC).

“This is in addition to N100 million paid to WAEC in April 2022, being deposit, thus, bringing the total payment to N556.5 million.”

The Commissioner recalled that the state government sponsored 30,922 candidates for the 2022 WASC at a registration fee of N18,000 per candidate.

Magawata-Aliero added that government had also approved N2.6 million cost of materials and extra supervision. (NAN)

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Education

Ikpeazu Inaugurates ABSU Governing Council, Approves 3 Months Salary Arrears Payment

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Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia has inaugurated the governing council of Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU)with a charge to facilitate the development of the university.

Speaking during the event on Wednesday at the Government House, Umuahia, Ikpeazu said that the university occupied an important place in the comity of universities in Nigeria.

 The governor charged them to evolve programmes that would encourage excellence as well as  improved productivity among students and staff of the university.

He recalled that the institution grew from the 97th to 26th position to become the second best State university in Nigeria and  recently won an award from Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).

He said that the sterling achievements of the institution could only be sustained if students remain on campus.

Ikpeazu said that Abia government had released the sum of N200 million to support the University in the  payment of three months salary owed the staff of the university.

He said that plans were underway to improve the  welfare of staff and added that government had taken steps to enhance security of life and property in the university and its environs.

Ikpeazu expressed optimism that the institution would record more achievements  under the watch of the newly inaugurated council, and promised that government would ensure regular release of subventions.

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He congratulated the Pro Chancellor and members of the Council and urged them to work together.

Responding, Chief Mba Ukariwe, the Chairman of the council, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve, adding that it was an honour to contribute to educational development in Abia.

 Ukariwe said that the members of the council would live up to expectation as they were poised to commence work immediately to restore normalcy in the university.

Newsmen report that the members of the governing council include Chief Obinna Njoku, Chief Chibuike Nwokeukwu, Mrs Precious Achumba, Chief Ndukwu Ndukwu,

Others are Mr  Ogbonnaya Uwadiegwu, Mr Nwaro Kenneth Offor, Mr Eze Ajuzie and the management of the institution. (NAN)

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