Delivered by: Reem AlAmeri, Attache
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank the Permanent Mission of Russia for convening this Arria-formula meeting, and I also thank the briefers for sharing their perspectives on this issue.
Forced separation of children, especially refugees and asylum seekers, from their families and their subsequent trafficking and exploitation continues to plague our societies, especially those in conflict situations. UNICEF reported that about 43.3 million children had been displaced as a consequence of conflict and violence as of the end of 2022.
War places children in peril, while causing them to suffer devastating and enduring consequences. Children become orphans, their access to education is restricted, and they suffer from unimaginable violence, and girls too often become victims of sexual violence.
The ongoing tragedy in Gaza has once again shown us that children inevitably pay the greatest price of conflict. As U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted earlier this week, Gaza is becoming a “graveyard for children”. In Gaza today, there is an acronym, WCNSF, meaning “wounded child, no surviving family.” There is no pain greater than a child’s forced separation from their family, particularly by loss of life.
Children face particular vulnerabilities in wartime, and international humanitarian law establishes strict and specific standards for the special respect and protection of children. These rules are clear, and they must be upheld to ensure that mothers and children are kept together when detained, to prohibit the evacuation of children by parties other than their own nationals from areas of conflict, and to take steps to facilitate the reuniting of families temporarily separated.
We once again reiterate our call on parties involved in conflict to fully meet their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular those related to the protection of children. Moreover, when children are separated from their parents or legal guardians, all efforts must be made to ensure they are reunited as quickly as possible. It is vital that any lack of clarity regarding children evacuated or displaced in the course of the conflict must be addressed and the rights of children upheld.
The United Arab Emirates will continue to work with all international partners to do our part in combating child migration and displacement, and to ensure that children are safe from violence and able to grow up with their families.