NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 12 – On #RedHandDay the United Nations noted that the global commitment to end the use of children in armed conflict led to the release and reintegration of more than 5,000 children in 2017, but tens of thousands of boys and girls are still being recruited, kidnapped, and forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces at “alarming rates.”
“Children can only be freed from armed groups and forces through a comprehensive reintegration process, including medical and psycho-social support, as well as educational programmes and trainings,” the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, said Monday, on the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers. “Without a strong political and financial commitment to the reintegration process, re-recruitment is unfortunately likely to happen in many conflict situations,” Ms. Gamba added.
In Rome the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Angelino Alfano, stressed the message, reiterating the call for cohesive and urgent action of international community to protect children. A joint effort of Governments, international organizations, NGOs and civil society, based on solidarity and responsibility is needed, Alfano said. Despite progress, boys and girls continue to be recruited, kidnapped, forced to fight or work for military groups or armed forces. The recruitment and use of children happened in all 20 country situations covered by the mandate entrusted to Ms. Gamba and her office.
Sixty-one parties to conflict out of 63 are listed for this grave violation in the 2016 Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the issue, making it by far the most widely-spread violation. “It is our responsibility to show these children that there is hope outside of conflicts, that they can live in peace and security and be allowed to live their dreams,” Ms. Gamba, reminded. (@OnuItalia)