Watchlist Newsletter

April 2016

Updates from New York

Sudan Signs an Action Plan with the UN to End the Recruitment of Children by Government Security Forces

In March 2014, the Children, Not Soldiers campaign was launched by Ms. Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC), jointly with UNICEF. The campaign focuses on ending the recruitment and use of children by national security forces by 2016. Sudan was the last of the seven countries currently listed by the Secretary-General for recruitment and use of children by national security forces to sign an Action Plan with the United Nations. On March 27, 2016, in a ceremony attended by the SRSG-CAAC, Sudan signed such an Action Plan which sets out how to prevent the recruitment and use by Sudanese Government Security Forces. The Action Plan sets out key measures such as strengthening age verification mechanisms and ensuring accountability for child recruiters. This is an important milestone in the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, which Watchlist welcomes. In her meetings with Government officials, the SRSG-CAAC emphasized the importance of access to conflict-affected areas and of releasing child soldiers who have been captured and detained, in accordance with the principle of treating recruited children primarily as victims. Watchlist will work with partners to follow the implementation of the Government of Sudan’s commitments set out in the Action Plan.

Updates from the Field

Why We Need to do More than Bring Back the Chibok Girls
April 14 marked the second anniversary of the abduction of 276 female students by Boko Haram from a Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno State, Northeastern Nigeria. While the #BringBackOurGirls campaign mobilized support for the girls globally, not all abduction cases have received the same attention as this particular tragedy. It is estimated that more than 2000 women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram since the beginning of the conflict. Those that are freed from Boko Haram face numerous challenges reintegrating into their communities. The Nigerian military, in turn, is responsible for the disappearance of many children, especially boys, as a result of counter-insurgency operations.

In early February, Watchlist visited Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in the Northeast of Nigeria. The city has been the epicenter of the conflict in Nigeria and the birth place of Boko Haram in 2002. The visit offered an opportunity to follow up on the findings and recommendations presented in the report Who Will Care for Us? Grave Violations against Children in Northeastern Nigeria released by Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict in September 2014.

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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

UN Security Council Adopts Resolution 2272 (2016) Concerning Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by UN Peacekeepers: On March 11, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2272 endorsing the Secretary-General’s recent recommended measures to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers. The Council specifically requested the Secretary-General to replace all military or police units from troop contributing countries that had failed to hold to account perpetrators, and further ensure all replacement personnel uphold standards of conduct and discipline and appropriately address allegations or confirmed acts of sexual exploitation or abuse. The Resolution was passed with 14 votes in favor and 1 abstention. The Resolution and Secretary-General’s recommended measures follow numerous allegations of rape and other forms of sexual abuse by international and UN peacekeeping personnel in the Central African Republic (CAR) that have slowly been uncovered over the past year. The trial for twenty soldiers accused of rape and other crimes committed while serving as UN peacekeepers in CAR began the last week of March in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC contingent was repatriated by the UN in January.   
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Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Briefs the Council on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children in South Sudan: Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC) provided an informal joint briefing to the Security Council Working Group and the Security Council 2206 Sanctions Committee on the situation of children in South Sudan on March 14, 2016. The SRSG-CAAC described the worsening situation as grave violations against children increased dramatically in 2015. Perpetrators were named from both sides, and the SRSG-CAAC called upon the Sanctions Committee to continue to investigate and examine individuals and the command responsibility of those responsible for grave violations against children. 
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Save the Children Releases Briefing Note on Children Caught in Conflict in Yemen: Nearly a year after the conflict in Yemen escalated with the military operation launched by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, a briefing note released by Save the Children on March 23, 2016, describes the devastating impact on Yemeni children. Not only do children face a daily threat of death or injury due to frequent air strikes, they also face difficulty accessing food, drinking water, and basic healthcare. Approximately 1.3 children under the age of five are considered severely acutely malnourished and the humanitarian response is widely underfunded. On April 11, 2016, a ceasefire between the rebels, the Yemeni Government, and the Saudi-led coalition took effect and UN-sponsored peace talks are scheduled to restart on April 18.  
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Children Deprived of Education in Northeast Nigeria, Says Human Rights Watch: On April 11, 2016, days ahead of the second anniversary of the abduction of more than 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok, Human Rights Watch published a report, “’They Set the Classrooms on Fire’: Attacks on Education in Northeast Nigeria”, documenting Boko Haram’s attacks on schools, students and teachers. According to the report, Boko Haram destroyed more than 910 schools between 2009 and 2015, and forced an additional 1,500 to close. UNICEF additionally released the report “Beyond Chibok” on April 12, highlighting the impact of the conflict with Boko Haram on children across four states in the Lake Chad region. According to UNICEF, the increasing use of children, especially girls, in suicide attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon has become one of the defining and most alarming features of the conflict.
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