NEW YORK – The UAE reaffirmed its deep commitment to protecting children in armed conflict, both by providing humanitarian aid and ensuring their long-term wellbeing. H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN delivered the UAE statement at a United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict chaired by H.E. Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden.

“There is nothing more universal than the principle that children are entitled to special protection. It is something that we can all agree on, no matter our policy positions or how entrenched our disagreements may be,” underlined Ambassador Nusseibeh. “We should all be extremely concerned by the significant increase of verified grave violations against children in 2017.”

Addressing the situation in Yemen, Ambassador Nusseibeh reiterated that the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen takes its responsibility for protecting all civilians in armed conflict – particularly children – very seriously. She outlined the measures implemented by the Coalition to minimize the impact of the conflict on children, as well as the Coalition’s close coordination with all UN agencies and NGOs on the ground. She noted that in coordination with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, the Coalition has established a dedicated Child Protection Unit as a means of improving the protection of children. Additionally, she emphasized the positive results of the Coalition’s efforts to strengthen the protections for children, including the reintegration of Yemeni children who were recruited by Houthi militia into their communities.

Ambassador Nusseibeh highlighted that the Houthis continue to terrorize the population in Yemen and underscored their complete disregard for children and violations of international humanitarian law. The Houthis worst offenses include using children as child soldiers and human shields, the use of civilian hospitals and schools for military purposes, the indiscriminate laying of landmines, as well as the attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against their civilian population.

Ambassador Nusseibeh discussed the situation of children in the Arab region, stressing: “We know that there is nowhere on Earth where children’s futures are more under threat than in my region, where children suffer enormously from the deluge of current crises.” She confirmed that the extremist and terrorist groups in the region who threaten children, including Da’esh in Syria and Iraq and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. She stated that not only do these organizations kill, abduct, recruit for suicide bombings, and sexually abuse children, but they are also responsible for the attacks and the manufacture of explosive devices that cause child causalities and damage to infrastructure critical to the welfare and safety of children.

Regarding Israel’s neglect of children in the occupied Palestinian territories, Ambassador Nusseibeh noted that in 2017, Israel had detained hundreds of Palestinian children.

She expressed concern for the violations committed by Al-Shabaab in Somalia who continue to terrorize children and their families through heinous crimes – including public executions of children. She also highlighted the plight of Rohingya Muslim children in Myanmar that continue to be persecuted as part of ongoing violence against this unprotected community.

“There is no better way to halt the tragedy of children being unprotected in armed conflict than preventing conflict from breaking out in the first place,” stated Ambassador Nusseibeh. To that end, she called for better integration of child protection and prevention efforts. Furthermore, she called for the full implementation of the women, peace and security agenda – focusing on conflict prevention and the meaningful participation of women, as well as the active participation of youth in building peaceful and inclusive societies and stressing the importance of education of the ‘lost generation’ of children living their entire childhood in refugee camps.