UN: UN envoy says armed conflicts impact negatively on children

New York, US (PANA) - The impact on children of the collective failure to prevent and end conflict is severe, with regions in turmoil and violations against children intensifying in a number of conflicts, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui said on Wednesday.

This situation, she stressed, stemmed directly from an erosion of respect for international humanitarian and human rights law by conflict parties.

In her annual report to the UN General Assembly, Ms. Zerrougui highlighted the devastating impact on children of increasingly complex conflicts, despite concerted efforts and significant progress achieved over the past year.

The report, covering the period from August 2015 to July 2016, noted that the proliferation of actors involved in armed conflict and cross-border aerial operations created highly complex environments for the protection of boys and girls.

A statement issued on the report explained that in 2015, and again in the first half of 2016, Afghanistan recorded the highest number of child deaths and injuries since the UN started systematically documenting civilian casualties in 2009.

It added that in Syria and Iraq, incidents of violence have continued unabated.

"In South Sudan, following a year during which children were victims of brutal violations, hopes for improvement evaporated with the resumption of conflict last month, and in Yemen, the escalation of conflict continued with alarming levels of child recruitment, killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals," it said.

The report also marked the 20th anniversary of ‘children in armed conflict’ mandate, and took stock of the achievements accomplished since the publication of Graça Machel’s ground-breaking report, “Impact of armed conflict on children,” which led to the creation of the mandate of the Special Representative by the General Assembly.

Since 2000, over 115,000 children have been released as a result of action plans and advocacy. Engagement with non-State armed groups is growing and recently contributed to a historic agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP to release all children in the ranks of the FARC-EP.

The advocacy generated by this mandate, and reinforced by the campaign "Children, not Soldiers", has led to a global consensus among UN member states that children do not belong to security forces in conflict.

Progress in addressing recruitment and use of childdren over the last 20 years has been built upon and utilized in work to reduce other grave violations, notably sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals.

The report cited complex and emerging issues needing particular attention, including protection challenges posed by violent extremism, attacks on health care and protected persons, and displacement, specifically noting that armed conflict has resulted not only in human casualties, but also in an ever growing number of displaced children.

According to the UN refugee agency, an unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced away from their homes among them nearly 21.3 million are refugees, over half of whom are children.

In that regard, Ms. Zerrougui encouraged UN member states and other partners to support initiatives to help displaced children rebuild their lives, through ensuring that education is prioritised in emergency settings.

Among key recommendations to the General Assembly and UN member states, the report highlighted the need to ensure that member states engagement in hostilities, including in efforts to counter violent extremism, are conducted in full compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

Others are encouraging member states concerned by the "Children, not Soldiers" campaign to redouble efforts to fully implement their Action Plan, taking appropriate measures to reintegrate children, giving special attention to the needs of girls; and ensuring that special attention is paid to children affected by armed conflict in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
-0-  PANA  AA/AR  24Aug2016

24 august 2016 18:57:51




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