Address to the Security Council Meeting on Children in Armed Conflict
New York, 5 May 2002 -
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Eliza. I am 17 years old and I come from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
War. . . . . it sounds horrible and it's very hard to describe how awful it is when you actually live through one. Your whole world is falling apart. Everything that you know disappears. The only thing you can see is fear and death. You feel captured in every way. You're asking questions but there are no answers. You're seven years old and your Dad is not home for months. He comes for a few days and then he goes back again. And you only know that he might never come back. Complete dark is everywhere. This horror hits everybody, everybody is losing. If you're lucky enough you won't lose everything. I was only seven years old when the war started. Most of my friends are refugees. Sometimes their whole families were split up and nobody knew for months - even years - if their parents or children or sister or brother were alive. Sometimes a family with four members - father, mother, brother, sister - they were in four different places. And there was no way to find each other.
I was one of the lucky people. My family is alive. I know where they are. But I am surrounded with people who are refugees. They came to my town. But you don't look at them as refugees. They are new friends, that's how you see them. They are my best friends at the moment. They came to school and school is very important for us to do the only thing you can when the war is going on - to try to forget it.
I am a member of a youth center in Banja Luka. In that center there is a group of young people and we work on the implementation of children's rights. We are trying to help the refugees, to help them fit in. Being a friend to someone is the best thing you can do. You don't have to be a member of a youth center to do something like that. But through a group we do things together. For example we make crafts to sell to people on the street. And with that money we can get enough money to buy candies and toys and then we give to the orphans and refugee children. It's a small thing but it means a lot to them. We are doing also workshops in the schools where we have a training seminar. Through the workshop the children get to know what their rights are - like the right to live, the right to home, education, participation, the right to play. The more they are aware of what they can do and what they have a right to do then more things will be done. Together we can do it.
When you're in a group and that group is made of different people with different experiences - it helps to get some ideas. That kind of a group is here at the Children's Forum, at the United Nations. The main thing I want to do here is to learn from the others here, the children. That's the way I will get the knowledge I need and I will use when I go home and share it with others to make some progress.
But we also need your help. The best thing you can do is stop the war - prevent it. That is the only way to avoid the consequences and everything that war brings. And that is something that this Council has power to do. The real question is - is that power used. You are making decisions here that effect all the nations. That's the fact. I hope that you will remember my words when you get the opportunity to make another decision that could prevent and stop the war.