One year after the start of the post-election crisis, a report published by Save the Children and UNICEF highlights how the suffering of children in the crisis has been overlooked.
The report, which is titled ‘Vulnerabilities, Violence and Serious Violations of Child Rights‘, consolidates all cases of rights violations reported between November 2010 and September 2011. It chronicles six separate instances of serious violations of children’s rights. These violations include: killing or maiming of children, recruitment or use of children by armed groups, attacks against schools or hospitals, rape and other serious sexual violence against children, child abduction and denial of humanitarian access for children.
The report found that since the conflict began:
· 1,121 women and children have been victims of violations
· A child is being raped every 36 hours
· Two-thirds of child victims were girls and 60% were under 15 years old
Most of these crimes continue to go unpunished, with only 52 cases being prosecuted. This is true in spite of many of the victims knowing their abusers.
CEO of Save the Children Liz Gibbs says children are the first victims of the Ivory Coast conflict and the report provides a clear idea of the number of children directly affected by the crisis.
"The suffering of children in the Ivory Coast crisis has been overlooked until now. Many are scared to denounce the perpetrators of these crimes, and those who step forward should be supported. We will continue to assist the victims and monitor the institutions that are responsible for safeguarding the rights of Ivorian children,” Ms Gibbs said.
Save the Children is one of the NGOs helping support nearly three quarters of the victims. However, given that most violations are unlikely to be reported, statistics in this report will only be the tip of the iceberg. Save the Children New Zealand is also contributing $233,000 to be used for emergency Health Care Assistance in the Ivory Coast, after successfully pitching for financial assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF).