21 JUNE 2021

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

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Questions and Answers

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Question:  My second question, but if you also follow up and tell us if the SG will attend the Berlin II Conference as a piece of information.  But my question is about the meeting today that took place in Gaza between Tor Wennesland, the UN representative, and the leader of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar.  Sinwar after the meeting said the meeting was a failure.  And he called for a larger meeting with the leaders of the Palestinian factions in Gaza for tomorrow.  So, what can you tell us from the UN perspective about that meeting?

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Spokesman:  All I can tell you is that Mr. Wennesland was, in fact, in Gaza and he is continuing his efforts to solidify the cessation of hostilities, but I can’t share any more information with you.

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Question:  Yeah, the second question really follows up on some of what was discussed with Ms. [Virginia] Gamba.  And I’d like the Secretary-General’s comment on the plan by Hamas’ military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, to have 9-year-olds through high school students attend a military summer camp this summer.  A promotion video that they are showing shows children engaged in marching with guns and going out of holes armed with weapons, et cetera.  So, I’d like to know the Secretary-General’s view on what is obviously the recruitment of children in armed conflict and an acknowledgment that Israel has no such child recruitment programme.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Look, I have not seen that particular video.  In terms of child recruitment, I would encourage you to look through the report.  Those entities that have active child recruitment are listed and very clearly.  And, obviously, those who don’t are not.  What is important, and my takeaway from Virginia’s presentation, is that children everywhere deserve to live in an environment where they are not killed, where they are not maimed, where they are not encouraged to use violence, where they are not used as human shields, and that was to me Virginia Gamba’s main message.

Question:  Would you agree that use of summer camp, which, by the way, has been done for several years and is a matter of public record, by Hamas violates the corporate…  [cross talk]

Spokesman:  We stand against any encouragement of the use of children in armed conflict.  Anything that would encourage recruitment of children anywhere around the world, we stand firmly against it.  Okay, Iftikhar?

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For information media. Not an official record.