NEW YORK – At the 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.

In a statement delivered by Mrs. Amiera AlHefeiti, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, the UAE added that the Coalition continues to work closely with UN and other international partners to further enhance the protection of children in Yemen. This close cooperation was epitomized by the Memorandum of Understanding the Coalition signed with the office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in March 2019.

Mrs. AlHefeiti expressed deep concern about the Houthis’ exploitation of children, schools and educational centers in Yemen and their destruction of buildings, in particular, the use of schools by the Houthi militias as centers for storing arms and for recruiting, training and detaining children. She emphasized that the Houthis’ actions demonstrate a complete disregard for their obligations under international law and urged the Council to hold the Houthis accountable for their grave violations.

Additionally, Mrs. AlHefeiti expressed the UAE’s continuing commitment to alleviating the suffering of children through the provision of humanitarian assistance. She stated that the UAE has heavily factored in the needs of children into the more than USD five 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 USD 240 million in funding for the World Food Programme’s (WFP) operations. She noted that the UAE’s humanitarian efforts are also directed to the long-term interests of children threatened by conflict and stated that the UAE believed that education was not only the right of every child, but was an essential tool to uplift entire communities in order to reduce conflicts and the exploitation of children. To this end, she shared that the UAE has provided educational assistance for over 270,000 students through the WFP, and provided USD 35 million to UNICEF to pay teacher salaries.

“Ultimately, however, the best way to protect the children of Yemen is through peace and stability. In this regard, the UAE supports the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and the UN-led political process,” Mrs. AlHefeiti added.

Furthermore, she called on Member States to join the relevant platforms to discuss the evolving challenges and short-term and long-term needs for reintegrating children into their communities and develop recommendations to address funding gaps, and urged the international community to study and adopt innovative responses to sexual and gender-based violence in armed conflict including through strengthening engagement with local women and girls as active partners in the design and implementation of humanitarian action.