Children continue to bear brunt of conflicts - GulfToday

Children continue to bear brunt of conflicts

Syrian Children

Some 7,000 children have been drawn into frontline fighting roles around the world in 2018.

Children hold a special place in any society. They are to be protected. All children have the right to live free from violence, which harms their physical and mental growth.

None of us grow up to be man or woman without passing through that beautiful, carefree phase called childhood. Unfortunately, 2018 turned out to be the worst year on record for children caught up in armed conflict; the year saw the highest numbers killed or maimed since the United Nations began monitoring the violation.

Calling attention to the plight of tens of thousands of children detained in war-torn countries and 420 million others growing up in conflict-affected places, delegates told the UN Security Council recently that much more must be done to ensure they fully enjoy their right to be protected.

It is vitally important that the Security Council come together on the current plight of children affected by armed conflict across the globe, as noted by Virginia Gamba, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

In the 20 conflict situations monitored in the 2018 edition of the Annual Report of the UN  Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed that year.

Children continue to be used in combat, particularly in Somalia, Nigeria and Syria: some 7,000 have been drawn into frontline fighting roles around the world, during 2018. They also continue to be abducted, to be used in hostilities or for sexual violence: more than half of the 2,500 reported cases were in Somalia.

Some 933 cases of sexual violence against boys and girls were reported, but this is believed to be an under-estimate, due to lack of access, stigma and fear of reprisals.

Mali provides the most serious example of children being deprived of access to education, and the military use of schools: 827 schools in Mali closed at the end of December 2018, denying some 244,00 children access to education.

The UAE, on its part, deserves praise for its unflinching commitment to protecting children in such situations.

At the recent UN Security Council’s annual Open Debate on children and armed conflict, the UAE reaffirmed the commitment of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen — of which the UAE is a member — to complying with obligations under international humanitarian law, and underscored the seriousness with which the Coalition takes its responsibility to protecting all civilians in armed conflict –particularly children.

Amiera AlHefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, made it clear that the Coalition continues to work closely with UN and other international partners to further enhance the protection of children in Yemen.

The UAE has heavily factored in the needs of children into the more than $5 billion provided to Yemen and its people over the past four years, including the joint pledge with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for an additional $240 million in funding for the World Food Programme’s (WFP) operations.

The UAE’s humanitarian efforts are also directed to the long-term interests of children threatened by conflict. The UAE has provided educational assistance for over 270,000 students through the WFP, and provided $35 million to UNICEF to pay teacher salaries.

The global community should act unitedly to prevent all forms of violence and exploitation against all children. All parties in conflict areas should protect children and refrain from directing attacks against civilians, especially children.