Delivered by: Ghasaq Shaheen, Political Coordinator

Madam President,

I would like to thank you for keeping the Children and Armed Conflict agenda a priority for this Council, and choosing to focus our discussion today on prevention. The UAE looks forward to working with you as Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. I also thank SRSG Ms. Virginia Gamba and SRSG Ms. Najat Maalla M’jid, for their valuable insights, and for their dedication and tireless efforts to strengthen the protection of children. We are also grateful to Divina for joining us today and sharing her valuable perspective.

As I address the unacceptable reality of children’s suffering through the lens of conflict situations in my region, I wish to emphasize that every child in conflict, and every conflict situation affecting children, warrants the Council’s utmost attention.

According to UNICEF, in the Middle East and North Africa region alone, 580 children were killed in conflict or violence in 2022. In the region overall, some 50 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 13 million children are displaced.

Madam President,

Resolution 2427 (2018) marked a milestone in laying out a preventative approach to the protection of children agenda, including through partnerships across the UN system. As today is an opportunity to refocus our efforts, the UAE would like to highlight three elements that should guide our partnerships in prevention:

First, we need to prioritize and invest in education as a prevention tool. Education empowers future generations, it promotes mutual understanding and dialogue, and it protects against child recruitment and the hatred and intolerance that fuel conflicts. Investing in education also means speaking up in clear terms, in our respective national capacities as well as in the Security Council, for equal access to education and the protection of learning spaces as guaranteed by international law. In Afghanistan, girls were unfortunately deprived of their fundamental rights to education.  In Yemen, the Houthis continue to use summer schools to indoctrinate and recruit children, in violation of their obligations under international law and the action plan they signed with the UN. Schools should never be instrumentalized to promote radicalization or exclusion; they should always be sanctuaries of learning, nurturing, and opportunity. The UAE calls on parties to conflicts to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, and to safeguard, protect, respect, and promote the right to education.

Second, member states should exchange experiences and best practices on the rehabilitation, reintegration, and repatriation of children, as well as provide technical and financial assistance. War inflicts severe and long-term harm on the physical and mental wellbeing of girls and boys. Those children require comprehensive reintegration programs that are sensitive to age, gender, levels of ability and other needs. For instance, in Iraq, authorities and the broader community continue to grapple with the traumatic legacy of crimes perpetrated by Da’esh against girls, with an alarming increased trend in suicide among members of the Yazidi community. Similarly, the dire situation of children in Al Hol, and the fertile ground for radicalization it has become continues to require urgent attention from the international community. We welcome repatriation efforts and encourage countries that have undertaken such steps to share best practices so others may take similar initiatives.

Finally, coordinated mine action should be a core part of our partnership for a preventive approach. Even in times of truce or post-conflict, children continued to be killed and maimed because of landmine contamination. This is unfortunately especially true in our region. Throughout the years the UAE has participated in or funded mine and explosive remnants of wars clearance projects including in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Yemen, and will continue to support mine clearance and awareness efforts.

Thank you, Madame President.