Statement on children and armed conflict

Statement by the Republic of Slovenia at the UN Security Council briefing on children and armed conflict, addressing the consequences of the denial of humanitarian access for children

Thank you, Madam President.

I join others in thanking SRSG Gamba, Deputy Executive Director Chaiban and Ms. Niger-Thomas for their briefings. We welcome their valuable work and contributions to better protection of children in armed conflicts. We thank the Maltese Presidency for excellently steering the work of this Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

Madam President,

We are appalled that denial of humanitarian access to children still exists and is increasing.

Even in wars, there are rules. Parties to conflict must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Every party to the armed conflict bears the primary responsibility to meet the basic needs of the civil population living under its control where special attention must be paid to children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most universally ratified instrument, is clear in this regard.

Denying children humanitarian access is cruel and inhumane. It prolongs their acute plight and triggers their vulnerability to further human rights violations and abuses, sexual and gender-based violence, particularly against girls, recruitment, disease, malnutrition, and too often death. This has to stop. How can we consider ourselves a civilization if we are able to inflict so much pain on the most vulnerable members?

Rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian delivery must be guaranteed at all times. By all sides. To this end, the Security Council has adopted a humanitarian carve-out in sanctions regimes. It is also imperative that the states harmonize their national counter-terrorism legislations.

Humanitarian response is a lifeline for millions of children. We call on all parties in all the conflicts to silence their guns and cease hostilities. Only a stable ceasefire can create conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance at the scale required. We also call on them to fully cooperate with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator (OCHA), UN agencies, Funds and Programs, and other humanitarian actors.

Madam President,

Only two weeks ago in this chamber, we were confronted with the alarming projections of severe acute malnutrition among children in Sudan. The assessment by the humanitarian community that over 220,000 children could possibly die of malnutrition is horrifying. Starving children in Gaza are being killed on an unprecedented level. In Yemen, nearly half of children under 5 suffer from stunting. In Afghanistan, girls are denied access to basic services, including education and healthcare, but also humanitarian aid. In Haiti, amidst security and humanitarian crises, seven in ten cases of reported sexual violence include children. In Myanmar, six million children are being left behind by not having access to life-saving aid. In Ukraine, daily targeting of critical civilian infrastructure leaves children without access to food, water, healthcare and education and thus adding to their overwhelming suffering. Unfortunately, to these, we could add more.

Madam President,

The international humanitarian community has an almost impossible mission of delivering food, providing basic services, critical humanitarian assistance, and psychosocial support. I wish to extend our deepest appreciation to all humanitarian and medical personnel, medical and UN workers for their dedication and we condemn in the strongest terms the killing of humanitarian workers anywhere.

Efforts to safeguard the rights of children must be comprehensive, encompassing prevention, accountability, and rehabilitation, including psychosocial support for children traumatized by armed conflict. Collaboration among governments, humanitarian organizations, local communities, and individuals is required to ensure a future where every child is safe from the horrors of war.

Slovenia will continue working with partners to support better protection of children in armed conflict and beyond by providing food assistance and long-term psychosocial and health rehabilitation.

I thank you.

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