Friday, 24 October 2014

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Children deserve protection, not exploitation

11 March 2014 – The United Nations has launched a new initiative to eliminate the use of children in war by 2016, as thousands of children are currently being used to serve armies and opposition groups in armed conflicts around the world.

“When we help a former child soldier overcome such a terrible experience and prepare for a new future, we do more than mend a broken life. We begin to bind the wounds of a nation torn by conflict,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake states. The ‘Children, Not Soldiers’ campaign calls on Governments, regional and non-governmental organizations to work with the UN to intensify efforts to meet the goal of zero use of children by any Government forces.

Ten years ago, the Security Council demanded that the countries using child soldiers collaborate with the UN to devise concrete plans to eliminate the use of child soldiers. Today, eight Government security forces are still on the list of countries recruiting and using child soldiers in armed conflict in the Secretary-Generals Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.

These countries are Afghanistan, Chad, South Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and Sudan. The six first-mentioned countries have signed action plans with the UN, and Yemen and Sudan are in dialogue with the UN and have expressed their commitment to the matter.

Social-Media-Posting-1According to the 2013 annual report on children in armed conflicts, other countries are also reported to be committing grave violations against children; among these are Central African Republic and Syrian Arab Republic. The recruited children are being used to serve as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers or even human shields. Girls – and sometimes boys – are also recruited for sexual purposes.

“All children deserve protection, not exploitation; they belong in school, not armies and fighting groups. Children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns,” says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a message for the launch of the new initiative. The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, noted at the launch of the initiative, that there is a consensus among States that no child should be recruited or used in conflict by Government forces.

"We must not rely on hope when children suffering in armed conflict are calling upon us to be heard", stated Ms Zerrougui. "Only action and concrete measures will ultimately make a difference."

Join the campaign! #CHILDRENnotsoldiers

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