Brussels, 3 December – The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF welcomed the commitment of the European Parliament to end the recruitment and use of children and protect them from the impact of conflict.
“Millions of children are disproportionately affected by current conflicts. Our moral obligation is to make sure that these children, including child soldiers, belong in schools and not on the battlefield or serve armed groups. This is why the European Parliament supports wholeheartedly the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, and this is why we will keep pushing for children’s rights to be even higher in the EU foreign policy agenda”, said Elena Valenciano Martinez-Orozco, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights during a special hearing held jointly with the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the European Parliament today.
The campaign “Children Not Soldiers”, launched in March 2014, is a joint effort by UNICEF and the Special Representative for Children and Armed conflict to end the recruitment and use of children by government forces in conflict by the end of 2016.
“The support of the European Union is very important,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. “Ending the recruitment of children by Government forces in the next two years is possible, but only if we work together and share our resources and expertise.”
At the time of the launch, eight national security forces were listed by the Secretary-General in his annual report to the Security Council on children and armed conflict. In the past 9 months, significant progress has been achieved and Chad, one of the countries concerned by the campaign, has met all the requirements to make its army child-free.
“It is unacceptable that children continue to be recruited and used by armed forces” said UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director Yoka Brandt. “UNICEF appreciates the EU’s efforts to promote and protect the rights of all children, especially those affected by armed conflict.”
The European Union’s support can also be instrumental to provide assistance for the reintegration of former child soldiers as well as for strengthening justice systems so that perpetrators of violations against children are held accountable. It is important to ensure that protecting children is at the heart of all of our work in countries affected by conflict.
About “Children not Soldiers”
‘Children not Soldiers’ is a campaign to end the recruitment and use of children in Government armed forces in conflict by 2016.
Led by Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF, the campaign mobilizes global support and financial resources so the seven government armed forces listed in the Secretary General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict become and remain child-free.
For additional information or media enquiries:
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
Office: +1 212 963 8285, Mobile: +1 917 288 5791
UNICEF Brussels EU Office
Office : +32 2 505 01 06