UNICEF has received credible reports that armed groups in the north of Mali are increasingly recruiting and using children for military purposes. While it is difficult to establish the precise figures, reliable sources have stated that numbers involved are in the hundreds and appear to be escalating.
In July, UNICEF reported that at least 175 boys, aged between 12 and 18, were directly associated with armed groups in the north.
UNICEF calls on all parties to the conflict, leaders and community members to ensure that children are protected from the harmful impact of armed conflict and do not participate in hostilities.
The recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 by armed groups is prohibited by international law, and constitutes a war crime and crime against humanity if children are recruited and used under the age of 15.