An Afghan boy holds a baby in the village of Small Loi Kola
An Afghan boy holds a baby in the village of Small Loi Kola

As a UN list proves, children are still being recruited and used in warfare while schools are repeatedly being attacked and closed with a UN official saying this was "another tragic year" for the world's youngsters.

New additions to the list include the Philippines' Moro secessionist movement in the south, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which was among the 61 rebel groups that targeted children recruitment in the 22 countries the report focuses on. Other groups such as the al-Shabab militia in Somalia, and the Afghan National Police in Afghanistan are also listed.

In Afghanistan however, the Government recently agreed to release children from the Afghan national security forces and to put in place more efficient age verification measures to prevent under-age recruitment.

The report also reveals that the UN Security Council also found the New People's Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group of being actively engaged in recruiting children as fighters.

As details of the list emerged however, the MILF repeatedly denied the recruitment of child warriors, with member Muhammad Ameen insisting his group and its military wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), do not participate in the recruitment of children and have even prohibited it.

As the use of child soldiers is still widespread, In June, the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution which expended the criteria for listing parties to conflict in the Secretary-General's annual report, including parties who attack schools and hospitals.

The resolution strictly prohibits the "recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, attacks on schools and/or hospitals."

"The promise of this resolution is very real. During my visits to conflict areas, I have personally seen the devastation -- schools completely destroyed, bombed or burnt to the ground. Attacks on hospitals are two-fold atrocities. Not only do they kill and wound girls and boys, but they leave children without access to treatment," said Radhika Coomaraswamy , the Special Representative of the Secretary General for children and armed conflict.

The annual report finds that out of 22 conflicts that were monitored, attacks against schools and hospitals were reported in at least 15, with reports of damage, destruction and closing of schools appearing to be a pattern.

"The infrastructure of schools have been physically destroyed by armed actors, and students and educational personnel have been attacked, threatened or intimidated," the report states.

"In some situations, girls and girls' schools have been specifically targeted. The use of schools by armed elements has, in certain circumstances, compromised the civilian nature of schools and put students at risk."

Other entries on the list include Yemeni groups pro-Government tribal militia and al-Houthi rebels, both for recruiting and using child soldiers and the Iraqi groups the Islamic State of Iraq, and Al-Qaida in Iraq, including its armed youth wing known as the Birds of Paradise.

The report examined armed conflicts last year in Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Haiti, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, southern Thailand, Uganda and Yemen.