United States says global abuses against children will not be tolerated in wake of pandemic

Global abuses against children will not be tolerated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the United States said on Friday.

U.S. Deputy Political Coordinator at the United Nations Trina Saha acknowledged that the coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges in the fight against human rights abuses of children.

“This year, we will have an incomplete understanding of how armed conflict has impacted children, with abuses and violations occurring in the shadows,” Saha told the U.N. Security Council.

While the United Nations’ Country Task Forces on Monitoring and Reporting is responsible for collecting data and reporting on human rights abuses around the world, including those against children, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it very difficult and complicated to collect accurate data.

Many worry that the inability to collect vital information and lack of humanitarian access over the past year has led to a lack of accountability for those responsible for human rights abuses and atrocities.

“This pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to violate human rights, unlawfully deny humanitarian access, block information sharing, or avoid transparency,” said Saha.
In many cases, humanitarian crises have been exacerbated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, for example, has seen countless human rights violations- to which children are the most vulnerable.

Across the Tigray region, over 2 million people have been displaced and countless more have been killed while Saha asserts that “thousands of children have been forced from their homes, separated from their families, and have even fallen victim to sexual violence.”

In the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, scores of young children have been killed by military forces during ongoing violent crackdowns by security forces against anti-coup, pro-democracy protests.

“While the world continues to battle COVID-19, we must consider how we can simultaneously protect children, despite communication and access challenges. We urge states to take greater ownership for providing child protection services and demand that parties to conflict abide by their international legal obligations,” said Deputy Political Coordinator Saha.

She also went on to assert that the United States’ commitment to global COVID-19 relief via monetary commitments to the COVAX initiative is critical in combatting the violence against children around the world.

As is the case with many issues, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the ability of the international community to respond to human rights abuses against children, who have fallen victim to displacements, killings, and rape.

In conflicts and humanitarian crises, children are the most vulnerable and must be protected at all costs. The international community must make it known that abuses against children will not be tolerated in any form, making it a priority to defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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