Urgent to protect children’s rights in Burkina Faso - Joint statement by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and on Violence against Children

New York, 26 January 2022 – The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and on Violence against Children, Dr Najat Maalla M’jid, are deeply concerned about the impact of the coup on children’s rights in Burkina Faso.

The two UN Officials urgently call on all parties to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law to ensure the protection of children from violence. The Convention on the Rights of the Child-ratified by Burkina Faso in 1990 and its Optional protocols must guide the actions of all and put children at the centre of efforts to protect the most vulnerable.

“Ensuring the protection of children and of their rights and promoting actions guided by the best interests of the child is vital in all communities, including when children are affected by political instability and armed violence. Children’s rights need to be safeguarded at all times, ” said the Special Representatives. 

The humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating in the country amid crises on multiple fronts: insecurity, armed and extreme violence, severe poverty and malnutrition, the COVID-19 pandemic, severe effects of the climate crisis, political and social instability; meanwhile women and children are the worst affected and disproportionately exposed to violations, including violence, exploitation, abduction, and recruitment and use by armed groups and to gender-based violence. 

“Children are amongst the most vulnerable groups in every society, and their vulnerability is exacerbated during social unrest and political insecurity. Children are often intentionally targeted in politically driven processes, manipulated by organized crime or groups designated as terrorist by the UN, forced to flee armed and gang violence, neglected in institutions. The rights of all children to protection must be safeguarded regardless of their origins and should not be jeopardized in the interests of political expediency or security concerns. Each time a new threat emerges, those working to protect children must move at speed to bridge the gaps and remind duty bearers, yet again, of their responsibilities for the realization of children’s rights”, added the UN Officials.

With a large displaced population, estimated at more than 1.5 million people, 1 per cent of IDP children are unaccompanied; with more than 1/3 of children at risk of recruitment by armed groups, forced labour and other protection concerns; women and girls, who make 54 per cent of IDPs are at increased risks of sexual and gender-based violence by armed groups; with schools and health facilities closed, and a high prevalence of harmful practices against women and girls, children are at heightened risk  of grave violations and suffering.  

The two UN Officials further call on authorities in Burkina Faso to urgently ensure the protection of the right to education in armed conflict, especially girls ’education which is too often overlooked and neglected.
“We urge positive and cooperative action from all parties to ensure the full and effective protection of children from violence”, said the Special Representatives. 


Miguel Caldeira, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, New York, caldeira1@un.org

Fabienne Vinet, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, New York. Tel: +1 646 537-5066 vinet@un.org