The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), Ms. Virginia Gamba, completed a day and a half visit to Riyadh to discuss protection concerns and explore avenues to strengthen the measures established by parties to conflict to end and prevent grave violations against children in Yemen. This is the first visit of the highest UN advocate for the protection of conflict affected children to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
During her visit, the Special Representative met with the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E Dr. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, with the Joint Forces Commander of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen, Lieutenant General Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, as well as with the Saudi Ambassador to Yemen, H.E. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Jaber; the SRSG also visited the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre
“Recent developments, including the commencement of the cease fire agreed between the warring parties, give us hope that the situation will improve and bring relief to the boys and girls in Yemen,” the Special Representative said. “Nevertheless, the number of children recruited, specially by militias and armed groups and the killing and maiming of children by all parties to the conflict must stop.”
Special Representative Gamba reminded all parties to conflict of their obligation under international law to protect civilians, including children, in the conduct of hostilities. With more than half of the population of Yemen in dire need of humanitarian assistance, SRSG Gamba also reminded parties to ensure that humanitarian assistance and protection is delivered as a matter of urgency to affected populations, especially the most vulnerable ones like children.
This visit is part of the ongoing efforts of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict and her office to engage with all parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on CAAC. Such engagement strives to develop and implement time-bound activities aimed at ending and preventing grave violations against children and improving the protection of boys and girls living in situation of armed conflict (SCR 2225). “Children continue to be used and abused by, in and for armed conflict. It is our common responsibility to stop these violations, help children overcome their ordeal and together prevent violations in the future. This is true for Yemen and those involved in that armed conflict but also applies to all situations of armed conflict on the CAAC agenda,” SRSG Gamba added.
“I hope these discussions can deepen and expedite the development of measures to better protect children in Yemen, that we continue to strengthen and capacitate child protection units and support the release of children and their safe and effective reintegration,” SRSG Gamba said. “We need tangible results on the ground, children in Yemen have endured enough suffering; this must end now, once and for all. Provisions for children must be also at the heart of any peace process and humanitarian assistance to all children must be facilitated and delivered,” she stressed.
The Special Representative added that she will continue to work with all listed parties to conflict to ensure that children in Yemen and in other conflict situations are provided with the best possible protection. She also called for sustainable and long-term reintegration support for former child soldiers to ensure that once released they can regain their stolen childhood. She appealed to all parties to continue to work constructively toward sustainable peace to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
Note to Editors
The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict gathers information and reports on how and where children are affected by armed conflict. Parties who commit grave violations against children in any of the 20 conflict situations on her agenda are added to the annexes of the Secretary-General Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.
The six grave violations against children are: the recruitment and use of children; the killing and maiming of children; rape and other forms of sexual violence; abduction of children; attack on schools and hospitals; and the denial of humanitarian access.
Parties to conflict in Yemen listed in the 2017 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict
List A – parties that have not put in place measures during the reporting period to improve the protection of children
1. Houthis/Ansar Allah (Recruitment and Use; Killing and Maiming; Attacks on Schools and Hospitals)
2. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula/Ansar al-Sharia (Recruitment and Use)
3. Pro-government militias, including the Salafists and popular committees (Recruitment and Use)
4. Security Belt Forces (Recruitment and Use)
List B – parties that have put in place measures during the reporting period aimed at improving the protection of children
1. Government forces, including the Yemeni Armed Forces (Recruitment and Use)
2. Coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen (Killing and Maiming)
Full 2017 SG Report on CAAC: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2018/465&Lang=E&Area=UNDOC
For more information:
Stephanie Tremblay/ Fabienne Vinet Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Children and Armed Conflict