Special Representative Leila Zerrougui highlights the plight of children in the ongoing crises during her presentation to the Human Rights Council

Geneva – The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, presented her Annual Report to the Human Rights Council covering the period from May 2012 to December 2013, and took part in an Interactive Dialogue on the Rights of the Child with Member States and NGOs.

During her presentation, Leila Zerrougui briefed the Human Rights Council on the disproportionate and intolerable impact that conflicts around the world have on children. Since her last presentation in September 2013, armed conflict has intensified in several areas of the world.

“In Syria, South Sudan, Central African Republic but also in other countries, thousands of children are recruited, killed, maimed, raped and kidnapped,” declared Leila Zerrougui. “The survivors are often deprived of lifesaving humanitarian assistance and denied their basic human rights.”

The Special Representative pledged to continue to reach out to parties to conflict and to mobilize the international community to better protect children.

Ms. Zerrougui asked Member States, UN and NGO partners in Geneva to support the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” launched jointly with UNICEF last week and endorsed by the Security Council on 7 March.

The campaign, strong of a consensus by all Member States that children do not belong in armed forces in conflict, aims to galvanize support and resources to end the recruitment and use of children by the Government security forces listed in the annexes of the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.  At the launch event in NY last week, the eight Government forces listed -Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen- have committed to this goal and the Special Representative commended this important progress.

Protecting the right to education in conflict remains an area of great concern for the Special Representative.

“In 2013, we have witnessed an increasing and worrying number of attacks on schools in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Nigeria,” said Ms. Zerrougui. “We have to join forces, we must ensure that the essential role of education in emergencies is fully recognized and that children’s right to education is protected even in times of conflict.”

The office of the Special Representative is preparing to launch guidelines on monitoring and reporting of attacks against schools and hospitals. This will contribute to improve the accountability of perpetrators, in line with Security Council resolution 1998 on attacks against schools and hospitals adopted in 2011.

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For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, +1-212-963-8285 (office), +1-917-288-5791 (mobile), tremblay@un.org