he Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict briefed the Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict on the first report of the Secretary-General on the situation of children in Yemen.
“While challenges remain, I wish to highlight that the Government of Yemen has taken steps to protect children from the impact of the conflict,” declared Ms. Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
Last week, a draft action plan to end the recruitment and use of children by Government forces was adopted by a Yemeni technical committee established by the President to lead the development of the plan with the assistance of UNICEF and the UN country team.
The Special Representative strongly supports this process and expressed the hope that the action plan can be adopted by the Government and signed as early as September.
“It is now essential to maintain the momentum to ensure that the Government’s commitment to end the recruitment and use of children results in the swift adoption and implementation of an Action Plan,” said the Special Representative. “We must demonstrate our collective support to the Yemeni authorities as the adoption and signing of the action plan will contribute to the creation of a better environment for children and to the broader process of peacebuilding and development in Yemen.”
The report presented today covers the period from July 2011 to March 2013 and documents cases of child recruitment and use by Government Forces as well as various armed groups, including Al Houthi and Ansar Al Shari’a, an organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Children have also been victims of drone attacks targeting Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Ansar Al-Shari’a.
During the reporting period, other child rights violations, including cases of killing and maiming of children and attacks on schools and hospitals, were documented.
The Special Representative expressed her concern about ongoing cases of recruitment and use of children, as well as sexual violence. In addition, children continue to be at high risk of being killed and maimed by mines, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war.
At the end of her presentation, Ms. Zerrougui called on authorities to address the underlying causes of recruitment and to prioritize the development of sustainable livelihood opportunities, including the socio-economic reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces to avoid their re-recruitment. She also urged the international community to support peace building and development in Yemen.