UN chief Antonio Guterres ‘appalled’over recruitment of children by Hizbul, Naxalites

UNITED NATIONS:Children are being recruited by terror groups such as Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba in Kashmir and by Naxalites in other parts of India, according to a report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who voiced concern over such recruitment and called on the government to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.

In the ‘Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict’, released Tuesday, Guterres said children continued to be affected by incidents of violence between armed groups and the Government, “particularly in Jammu and Kashmir and in the context of the Naxalite insurgency.” He welcomed the measures taken by the Indian government to ensure protection to children.

“I welcome the Government’s measures to provide protection to children, notably through the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, but remain concerned by the reported child casualties and the recruitment and use of children in some areas of the country. I encourage the Government to put in place prevention and accountability measures to hold perpetrators of grave violations to account in view of ending and preventing grave violations against children,” he said.

The report said the UN received reports of child recruitment and use in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Five children, some as young as 14, were reportedly recruited by militant groups, including by Hizbul Mujahideen (two and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (one.” Two other children joined Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“In addition, reports of the systematic recruitment of children by Naxalites continued to be received,” the report said.

The report also cited the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in Kathua district.

In the 20 conflict situations monitored in the 2018 edition of the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed that year.

A ‘disheartened’ Guterres said that he was particularly appalledby the unprecedented numbers of grave violations committed against children.

Children continue to be used in combat, particularly in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria; some 7,000 have been drawn into frontline fighting roles around the world, during 2018.

They also continue to be abducted, to be used in hostilities or for sexual violence;more than half of the 2,500 reported cases were in Somalia.