Universal Children’s Day: Make Violations Against Children History in the DRC
GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, 20 November 2013 – On Universal Children’s Day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and Armed Conflict, the head of the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC and the Representative of UNICEF in DRC called for better protection of children affected by violence related to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
“We are united by the goal of making the recruitment of children, sexual violence and other grave violations against children history in the DRC,” said Ms. Zerrougui. “We have made important progress, but at this critical juncture in the peace process in eastern DRC, children’s needs and their protection must be at the heart of our efforts to build a durable peace.”
Ending violence against children is the central theme of this year’s celebrations surrounding Universal Children’s day. During ceremonies in Goma, the Special Representative, MONUSCO and UNICEF reiterated their commitment to support Congolese authorities to end violations and protect all children affected by violence.
“Several thousands of children were released from armed groups in the past five years,” said Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of MONUSCO. “This is a statistic, but one single child is too many. We have to keep working together to ensure children are no longer recruited and are protected from all forms of violence.”
Universal Children’s Day is also the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The UN convention, adopted in 1989, became the first legally binding international convention to affirm human rights for all children. It specifies that every child, everywhere, has the right to survive, grow, participate and be protected from all forms of violence. The convention was further strengthened by the addition of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed, which prohibits the use of children under 18 in conflict. The Democratic Republic of Congo has ratified both the CRC and its optional protocol.
“Every child must be protected from violence. Protecting them today means investing in the future because violence undermines society. It affects well-being and prosperity. DRC cannot afford to ignore their needs,” declared Barbara Bentein, UNICEF Representative in DRC.
Violence against children is not limited to situations of war and conflict. It happens at home, in communities, in schools, everyday and everywhere. Everyone has a responsibility to make it stop.
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RSSG Enfants et conflits armés