Delivered by Mrs. Amiera AlHefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative
Check against translation.
At the outset, I would like to thank you and the Permanent Mission of Brazil for convening this important debate and keeping the Children and Armed Conflict agenda a priority for this Council. I also take this opportunity to express our appreciation the tireless efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, and her office to enhance the protection of children in conflict zones around the world. The UAE remains deeply concerned by the level of grave violations committed against children, the majority of which continues to be committed by non-state actors, including terrorist groups such as the Houthis, Al-Shabaab, and Da’esh. We also thank UNICEF Executive Director Ms. Catherine Russell for her comprehensive briefings and we thank Mr. Patrick Kumi for his participation in today’s meeting.
In light of the UAE’s commitment to the protection of children in armed conflict, in accordance with international law and the existing Security Council framework, we would like to highlight three critical issues:
First, we must encourage, and support multi-stakeholder mechanisms dedicated to the protection and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict, to ensure a whole-of-society approach and to build well-rounded programs that will support peacebuilding efforts. It can also facilitate sustainable financing necessary for survivor-centered and gender-responsive programming. As we have heard from Mr. Patrick Kumi today, it is vital to ensure that all peacebuilding efforts consider the needs of those children, in order to accelerate their reintegration into society and allow them to build their own promising futures.
Second, we need to continue addressing the abduction of children in conflict settings, which verified incidents rose more than 20% in 2021 according to the UN Secretary-General recent report– despite this grave violation being severely underreported. We must accelerate age- and sex-disaggregated data collection, as this can better develop our understanding of how conflicts impact girls and boys differently throughout the conflict continuum. It can also assist relevant actors, such as regional organizations, to better develop their strategies for information-sharing as well as monitoring and reporting, particularly for cross-border grave violations.
Third, as we see numbers of forcibly displaced persons reaching records levels, it is crucial that this Council keeps the particular needs of displaced children at the center of its attention. This includes ensuring that the protection of displaced children is integrated into the mandates of peace operations and access to essential services reaffirmed – such as access to psychological and health services. We affirm her that children displaced by armed conflict have a fundamental right to education, as does every child. This education should be inclusive, sensitive to their needs, and tailored to their well-being, cultural sensibilities, and language preferences.
As we have said before, if we are truly committed to ensuring the protection of children, we must prevent conflict in the first place. Unfortunately, the situation for children continues to deteriorate, and that it is directly linked to the increase in armed conflict globally. The Security Council must work to uphold its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, by preventing and ending conflicts. The UAE will continue to support all efforts to that end.