Secretary-General's press encounter following Security Council open debate on Children and Armed Conflict
New York, 12 July 2011SG: Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to see you.
Yesterday I travelled to Washington to participate in a meeting of the Quartet Principals.
We discussed the urgent need to bring the parties into resumed negotiations in the aftermath of President Obama's speech of May 19, which all Members of the Quartet supported.
It was a detailed and very useful discussion.
I hope it will still be possible to help the parties return to talks on a clear basis, which is a common objective of all Quartet members.
Quartet envoys are continuing consultations today.
I believe the Quartet and the international community, together with the parties, need to make all efforts to find a way forward to re-start negotiations to finally bring an end to the occupation and an end to the conflict, and lead to the establishment of two states, an independent Palestine and a secure Israel.
Let me now turn to this morning's Security Council Debate on children affected by armed conflict, organized by Germany.
The Council has shown sustained commitment on this issue, with eight resolutions since 1998.
It has sent a consistent and clear message: Protecting children in armed conflict is a peace and security issue, and the international community will not tolerate grave violations of this principle.
This includes the recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access.
Today's resolution takes us one step further.
It adds attacks on schools and hospitals as listing criteria in my annual reports on children in armed conflict.
I welcome this advance.
Places of learning and places of healing should never be places of war.
Schools and hospitals should be zones of peace respected by all parties to conflict.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me now turn to a very serious issue, developments in the Horn of Africa – the humanitarian crisis.
I am extremely worried by the situation in the Horn of Africa.
More than 11 million people need urgent assistance to stay alive, as they face their worst drought in decades.
This morning I called an urgent, emergency meeting with the heads of UN agencies.
We agreed we must do everything we can to prevent this crisis deepening.
The human cost of this crisis is catastrophic.
UN agencies have asked for $1.6 billion dollars to pay for essential life-saving programmes in the region, but have only received half that amount.
We cannot afford to wait. I urge Member States to support our appeal fully, and without delay.
I have decided that I will personally get in touch with Member States, and ask them to provide the resources we need.
Our priority is to stop the suffering now.
But, looking ahead, we must do more to tackle the underlying fragility in this region.
Thank you very much.