I am pleased to support the new campaign, “ACT to Protect Children Affected by Conflict”.
Graça Machel’s landmark 1996 report on the impact of armed conflict on children described not only the brutality faced by millions but also the centrality of this issue to advancing international peace, development and human rights.
The United Nations continues its determined work to address this challenge. My Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict monitors and reports on violations, assisted by United Nations departments, funds and programmes as well as civil society. Our common efforts have led to the release of more than 130,000 children recruited by armed groups and forces, but much more is needed.
Violence against children in armed conflict can take many forms: killing and maiming, recruitment and use, sexual abuse, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian assistance. Should a child survive and be fortunate enough to be released to a reintegration program, they still have only a slim chance of recovery. A lack of resources and a failure to provide long-term assistance to victims and their communities have made many children open to a second victimization, either through the stigmas they carry or through inadequate education and growth opportunities, leaving them trapped in a cycle of violence and despair.
This new global campaign launched by my Special Representative aims to raise worldwide awareness, assist children in need and prevent them from becoming victims in the first place. Crucially, this initiative will offer children an opportunity to raise their voices.
Please join me in ensuring that the Act to Protect Children in Armed Conflict campaign reaches all corners of the world so no child ever fears being left behind again.