Children in Sudan Trapped in Escalating Hostilities, Urgent to Prioritize Their Protection
Joint statement by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and on Violence against Children
Press Statement: For Immediate Release
New York, 26 April 2023 – The rapid escalation of hostilities in Sudan has a dramatic impact on children, already highly affected by the country’s long-lasting and devastating conflicts and the dire humanitarian situation. The Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict and on violence against children echo the UN Secretary-General’s call on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and to ensure that necessary measures are taken to protect civilians and especially children in the context of combat operations.
“The lives, protection and well-being of children must take precedence over combat operations, and we call on all parties to halt hostilities and to ensure full protection of all children. Parties should further refrain from attacking civilian infrastructures in accordance with international humanitarian law, especially those impacting children – this includes schools and medical facilities as well as water and sanitation systems”, said the two UN Officials.
They are further alarmed at the reported numbers of civilians killed or maimed in hostilities, including children, and at attacks on hospitals and the denial of live-saving humanitarian aid to a population already in dire need of food, water and other essential supplies. All civilians and especially children must be able to access essential supplies and evacuate from combat zones. The UN Officials also remind that regardless of their roles, under no circumstances should children below 18 years be involved in armed conflict as the recruitment and use of children is prohibited under international law.
The UN Officials recall that all member states that have signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, including on the involvement of children in armed conflict, must ensure child-focused solutions to ongoing conflict and protect children during their combat operations. They stress the importance that all principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law are fully complied with, including those on proportionality, precautions and distinction in the targeting of civilian and military persons and objects when carrying out operations, especially during operations in civilian populated areas.
For decades, children in Sudan have already endured incredible levels of violence and suffering. Ceasing hostilities and de-escalation of tensions are the first urgent steps to ensure full protection of the children in the country without delay.
“Peace is still the best solution to stop violations against children. We call on all parties to prioritize peace engagements and in doing so to include child-specific provisions as per the Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict,”
* The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid.
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