Watchlist Newsletter

January/February 2016

Updates from New York

Children and Armed Conflict Smartphone App Wins First Prize for Innovation in Global Security from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict’s smartphone application on Children and Armed Conflict received the first ever Prize in Innovation in Global Security from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. The prize was awarded on the basis of a proposal to expand the functioning of the app towards MRM practitioners in the field, pending development in 2016. Recipients of the award include Watchlist, the app’s developer Lucid.Berlin, and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs

The smartphone app is available in English, French and Arabic for Apple, Android and Blackberry devices, as well as through the web. Users can also access a video tutorial for an easy guide to the app.

Watchlist Releases New Briefing Note: Working Methods 2006-2015
On February 8, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict released its new briefing note entitled Working Methods 2006-2015. Strengthening the Impact of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. The note continues Watchlist’s practice of providing updated analyses of the working methods of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. It examines and identifies trends in (1) the use of the Working Group’s toolkit and (2) the time taken to adopt country-specific conclusions, and offers recommendations for further strengthening the working methods of the Working Group in relation to both the use of the toolkit and the adoption time of conclusions.

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Updates from the Field

Watchlist in Nigeria to Monitor the Situation of Children Affected by Armed Conflict

In January, Watchlist conducted a field visit to Nigeria to coordinate with local partners and follow up on its 2014 report Who Will Care for Us? Grave Violations against Children in Northeastern Nigeria. Watchlist visited Abuja and Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and epicenter of Nigeria’s conflict in the northeast, to engage with various partners from national and international nongovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, and government bodies working on child protection.  

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Working together to protect the security and rights of children
Watchlist monitors and reports on the situation of children affected by armed conflicts in specific countries around the world.  

Watchlist provides its partners in the global south with technical support and advice to strengthen their ability to monitor abuses, to advocate on behalf of children in their communities and to respond to local needs.

With our unique perspective as a bridge between local actors and international policy makers, we are able to find and present practical solutions to the protection of children in conflict zones.
Children and Armed Conflict Key News

UNICEF Estimates that Every Two Seconds, a Baby is Born in a Conflict Zone: UNICEF reported on December 17 that, during 2015, more than 16 million babies had been born in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which is approximately one birth every two seconds. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake explained that the 2015 climate change agenda and 2030 Agenda for Suitable Development are historic agreements and if translated into action will benefit the world’s most vulnerable children in 2016. Currently, over a quarter billion children face enormous risks to their health, education, and well-being, as a result of living in conflict zones or being displaced due to war.
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UNICEF: One in Four Children in Conflict Zones are Out of School: On January 12, 2016, UNICEF reported that nearly 24 million children living in 22 conflict-affected countries are not in school. South Sudan is home to the highest population of out-of-school children; more than half of South Sudanese children between age 6 and 15 are out of school. Education in emergencies remains one of the least funded sectors in humanitarian appeals.
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Students and Teachers Killed in Attack on Pakistan University: A group of militants stormed Bacha Khan University in Northwest Pakistan on January 20, 2016, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens. The gunmen opened fire on students and teachers in their classrooms, inciting a six-hour gun battle between the Pakistan security forces and the attackers. This attack occurred a little over a month after the one-year anniversary of the Peshawar school massacre, in which 132 children were killed.
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The International Criminal Court Holds First Major Hearing on LRA Crimes: On January 21, 2016, the ICC began its first major hearing for a leader in the Lord’s Resistance Army. Senior commander Dominic Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda, including the use of child soldiers. Ongwen received military training after being abducted by the LRA around age 10; while the crimes he has been charged with were committed as an adult, the trial raises important issues regarding his status as a former child soldier. The hearing comes at a time when LRA attacks in the Central African Republic have increased in recent months.
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UN Releases Independent Panel’s Report on Child Sex Abuse in CAR by Peacekeeping Troops: The report of the Independent Review on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by International Peacekeeping Forces in the Central African Republic was released on December 17, 2015. Secretary-General (SG) Ban Ki-moon ordered the independent investigation of the UN’s treatment of reports of sexual abuse by French peacekeepers in CAR, alleged to have taken place between December 2013 and June 2014, after more than a year had passed before allegations were made public in media reports in April and May of 2015. The three-member review panel described the mishandling of the alleged abuse as a “gross institutional failure.” Since both the panel’s report and the original allegations were publicized, more and more cases of peacekeeper sexual abuse of women and children have cropped up. On February 4, Human Rights Watch released research alleging eight cases of sexual abuse against women and girls between October and December 2015 by MINUSCA peacekeepers from the Republic of Congo or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC national army is included in the SG’s “list of shame” for rape and other forms of sexual violence against children. This month, the SG will issue a report with all allegations of peacekeeper sexual abuse or exploitation from 2015 and will include the names of accused troop contributing countries and the status of investigations. 
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UN Human Rights Experts Visit Nigeria to Assess Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Women and Children Freed from Boko Haram: Following their visit to Nigeria from January 18 to 22, UN human rights experts called on the Government of Nigeria to transform its society through reintegration and rehabilitation efforts for women and children affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. The Special Rapporteurs called on the Government to address the protection gap, especially in service delivery and access to justice for women and girl victims, and additionally noted an urgent and pressing need to address stigma, ostracism, and rejection of women and children associated with Boko Haram. Days after their visit, Boko Haram attacked a village in Northeast Nigeria, killing at least 86 people and burning children.
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$1.4 billion Sought by UN to Save ‘Lost Generation’ with 4 Million Syrian Children Out of School: The United Nations and its partners sought $1.4 billion to save the Syrian youth generation at the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London, held February 4th. Co-hosted by Britain, Germany, Kuwait and Norway, the conference’s objective was to raise funds to meet the immediate and long-term needs of those affected by the crisis. According to UNICEF, in Syria, “the killing, abduction and arrest of students and teachers has become commonplace, as have arbitrary attacks on schools.”
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Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict
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