(Reuters) - Most victims of sexual violence in conflict zones are children who are suffering rape and abuse at an appalling rate, said campaigners who described the attacks as the "hidden horrors of war".

In the worst-affected countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, children made up more than 70 percent of victims, said a report by charity Save the Children published on Wednesday.

The study contained harrowing stories of children being killed after being raped and of others who were abducted and abused by armed forces and groups. It also said children as young as two were being attacked by opportunistic predators including teachers, religious leaders and peacekeepers.

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FLORENCE/BRUSSELS/DUBLIN 10 April 2013 – A timely study on child well-being in rich countries,launched today by UNICEF’s Office of Research, finds that the Netherlands and four Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – again sit at the top of a child well-being table; whilst four southern European countries – Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – are placed in the bottom half of the table.

Report Card 11, from UNICEF’s Office of Research examines the state of children across the industrialized world. As debates continue to generate strongly opposed views  on the pros and cons of austerity measures  and social spending cuts, Report Card 11 charts the achievements of 29 of the world’s advanced economies in ensuring the well-being of their children during the first decade of this century. This international comparison, says the report, proves that child poverty in these countries is not inevitable, but policy susceptible – and that some countries are doing much better than others at protecting their most vulnerable children.

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JAKARTA, 8 April 2013 (IRIN) - Efforts to protect children in Indonesia from abuse are obstructed by barriers to crime reporting, which may worsen with the threatened closure of police-run units that handle crimes against women and children. 

Usman Basuni, assistant deputy minister for child participation at the Women Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry, told IRIN these specialized police units - known by their local acronym, PPA - are at risk of closing because crimes against women and children are rarely reported, which has led police to shift their resources elsewhere. 

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460xROME (AP) — In his most significant break with tradition yet, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of two young women at a juvenile detention center — a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.

No pope has ever washed the feet of a woman before, and Francis' gesture sparked a debate among some conservatives and liturgical purists, who lamented he had set a "questionable example." Liberals welcomed the move as a sign of greater inclusiveness in the church.

Speaking to the young offenders, including Muslims and Orthodox Christians, Francis said that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service.

"This is a symbol, it is a sign. Washing your feet means I am at your service," Francis told the group, aged 14 to 21, at the Casal del Marmo detention facility in Rome.

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MDG--My-World-survey--A-y-006Textbook prescription … Honest government and better education are among the priorities identified in the My World global survey. Photograph: James Davies/AlamyA poll in which 200,000 people chose six life-changing priorities offers post-2015 planners vital input – not least on governanceWhat is it that people most want in life? The governments shaping the next global development agenda are doing so in the name of making people's lives better – so it seems like a good idea to ask as many people as possible what that entails.

Last week, the UN presented the first cut of the "global conversation" – reports of the 11 thematic and 83 national consultations on what a post-2015 agenda might look like. On Monday, the latest results from the My World survey add another dimension to that discussion.

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WESTPORT, Conn. (March 13, 2013) — Two million children trapped inside Syria are innocent victims of a bloody conflict that has already claimed 70,000 lives, Save the Children warned Wednesday, saying that these children are under constant risk of malnutrition, disease, trauma and early marriage.

In a new report, "Childhood Under Fire," launched to mark two years of violence in Syria, Save the Children details the impact of the conflict on children, showing that many are struggling to find enough to eat; are living in barns, parks and caves; are unable to go to school with teachers having fled and schools being attacked; and that damage to sanitation systems is forcing some children to defecate in the street.

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