On the occasion of the Day of the African Child, the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict unite their voices to call for the increased protection of children, especially those affected by conflict, to prevent and end grave violations against them, and to ensure their reintegration into their communities. The two officials also reiterate their commitment to strengthening their cooperation to better protect children across the continent and to increase prevention efforts.
This year’s theme of the Day of the African Child “Eliminating Harmful Practices Affecting Children: Progress on Policy & Practice since 2013” is particularly relevant for the protection and reintegration of conflict-affected children as harmful practices and social norms as well as negative coping mechanisms exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and put children at risk of violations and abuses of their rights.
“The impact of armed conflict in Africa on millions of boys and girls is devastating and unacceptable. The Day of the African Child is an opportunity for all of us to realise our joint responsibility to protect all children from the ravages of wars. The time is now to address violations of children’s rights in conflict-affected countries and to prevent them in the future. This year’s theme focusing on policies is a reminder that adopting measures to protect children, and implementing them, can have a direct impact on the daily reality of children. The African Union and the United Nations will continue to work for the integration of child protection principles into policies at international, regional, and national levels, and to support child protection across the continent.”
Highlighting the significance of the day, the UN Special Representative Virginia Gamba urged “Parties to conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law” and added: “we strongly condemn the continued instrumentalization of children by parties to conflict who, as a result, are recruited or used, killed or maimed, raped or abducted in situations of armed conflict.”
Amb. Bankole Adeoye underscored that “Putting a definite end to the use and abuse of children in armed conflict requires us all to act and today; we jointly call on our partners at global, regional, and national levels to accelerate efforts and increase resources for the protection of conflict-affected children, including reintegration and assistance programmes benefiting all children.”
Both organisations remind that ultimately, lasting peace is the most effective and only sustainable way to protect children from grave violations. As such, including the voices of children in national, regional, and international peace dialogues is crucial to ensuring peaceful, prosperous, and resilient societies across the continent.
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org
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