FRIDAY 10th MAY 2002

Check against delivery

Mr. President,

We stand here, these days, at a historical juncture. More than a decade ago, we, the international community, adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. At this Summit, we take stock of our achievements and shortcomings for each country and the global village in the implementation of the principles and goals enshrined in the Convention and Additional Protocols.

Much has been achieved but a lot remains to be done. Respecting the right of our children remains daunting and a challenge requiring immediate attention at all levels. The children of the world deserve better.

Mr. President,

It is within this spirit that is was my privilege to sign, yesterday, May 9, 2002, on behalf of Somalia, the Convention on the Rights of the Child; we shall also sign the Additional Protocols in due course.

The children of Palestine and Somalia deserve better. The Palestinian child is denied by the Israeli occupation forces of nearly all the rights enshrined in the Convention. Palestinian children are killed by Israeli forces, their homes destroyed and their right to a peaceful environment shattered with impunity.

In Somalia, we acknowledge and appreciate the role of the UN and in particular UNICEF, WHO and others in improving the quality of life of Somali children. However, Somali children continue to face challenges.

For example, child morbidity and mortality in Somalia, is extremely high. Infant mortality is amongst the highest in the world. Curable infectious diseases like T.B, cause more than half of all child deaths.

It is estimated that only 10% of Somali children had all the recommended vaccinations in the first 12 months. Life mortality of mothers is considered amongst the highest in the world. Only 15% of children in Somalia sleep under a bed net while only 28% of the population has access to safe water. Not to mention that access to sanitary disposal is extremely limited.

Cholera in Somalia is well above the 5% threshold while Funds for combating Aids are insignificant in terms of education, a five-year-old child, in 1990, at the beginning of the civil war in Somalia, who is now 17 years old does not have access to structured/formal education. Unable to get education and secure a decent livelihood, that 17 old is, today, a child soldier, at the mercy of notorious warlords. These child soldiers are taught to kill, abduct aid workers for ransom or to scare the international community from engaging in Somalia.

Mr. President,

In warn torn societies of the world and particularly in Africa, children are exploited and abused by warlords who care only about their political survival and interests. Our future-children- are turned into killing machines. More than a million have died form violence, displacement and famine. Conflicts destroy not only the political and social fabric of our societies but also our future-children.

Children in conflict countries like Somalia are taught the gun, the killing culture not the three Rs, are taught how to handle arms not to heel wounds. Somali children have been denied the right to peace and peaceful development by unscrupulous warlords. The continuous flood of arms and landmines into Somalia encourages the child soldier and child militia culture. In this context, it is imperative that all States and particularly neighboring States of Somalia respect and implement the Arms Embargo on Somalia sanctioned by the Security Council.

The strict compliance of the relevant Security Council resolutions on this issue will enhance the chances for a peaceful environment necessary for the full development of the great potential of our children.

In the light of our commitment to the Convention for the Rights of the Child and the two optional protocols, as well as to the "African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child," my government will...

. Continue with its peace-building efforts;

. Re-establish basic services and mobilize, encourage and support the existing civil society's efforts in the areas of human rights monitoring, health service provision, and education;

. Partner with women activist groups in monitoring human rights violations against women and in eliminating gender discrimination in all aspects of life;

. Mobilize human and financial resources from private and international sources in order to provide the following emergency services:

. Resettlement and reunion of displaced children with their families;

. Promotion of small economic activities that facilitate livelihood earnings for families

. Recuperation, rehabilitation and counseling of child combatants;

. Establishment of mine awareness programs and rehabilitation of mine victims, specially children.

Mr. President,

However, Peace stability, and development opportunities are the first prerequisites for honoring the right of the child. By full fully its mandate of promoting peace and stability, my government will prepare the stage for the adoption and implementation of national programs that consciously address the nteds of Somali children.

And in this context, I appeal to the international community to help us not only comply with the obligations of the Convention we signed yesterday, May 9, 2002, but also to provide a better life for our children.

Thank you Mr. President