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Myanmar: Partnership between UNDP and Finland supports Democratic Governance in Myanmar

12 September 2014 - 12:41am
Source: UN Development Programme Country: Finland, Myanmar

Yangon - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Finland have signed an agreement which would see Finland contribute 2 million euros (approximately USD $ 2.6 million) towards UNDP’s work on strengthening democratic governance in Myanmar.

UNDP’s works with government, parliament, judiciary and civil society to promote democratic governance, the rule of law, and the advancement of human rights in order to support the country’s reforms and strengthen foundations for inclusive growth and sustainable development in Myanmar.

“This partnership with Finland will contribute significantly to UNDP’s efforts to invest in accountable and responsive public institutions and make a big difference enhancing trust between the state and society,” said Toily Kurbanov, Country Director for UNDP Myanmar.

The funds from Finland will contribute to the achievement of Myanmar’s priorities in the areas of: improving planning and statistical capacities; enhancing legislative processes; supporting rule of law and accessible and fair justice; and enabling civil service to become more accountable and responsive to the needs of the people. In line with best practices of international development assistance, the funding is provided on programme basis, i.e. not earmarked towards specific activities or projects, thus enabling strategic and flexible leveraging in funds in support of larger reform objectives, as well as reducing transaction costs for development actors involved.

Finnish Charge d’Affaires in Myanmar, Jarmo Kuuttila noted that “Finland is committed to supporting the process of transformation in Myanmar, of which the promotion of good governance and respect for human rights is a critical part. We are confident that UNDP’s work with the government, the parliament and the judiciary, as well as civil society, can positively contribute to that process.”

The agreement was signed by Jarmo Kuuttila, Charge d’Affaires of the Diplomatic Mission of Finland in Myanmar and Mr. Toily Kurbanov, UNDP’s Country Director in Myanmar, in Yangon today, in the presence of the UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Assistant Administrator Mr. Haoliang Xu who is on an official visit to Myanmar, and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar Mrs. Renata Lok-Dessallien.

UNDP’s democratic governance work in Myanmar is also financially supported by the peoples and governments of Australia, Denmark and Japan.

For further information, contact:
Shobhna Decloitre, UNDP Communications Specialist on or Tel: +95 (0) 9250345158

Philippines: Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Bulletin January - June 2014

11 September 2014 - 11:19pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste preview



The first six months of 2014 saw the most intense and highest number of storms in Asia and the Pacific compared to the same period over the last five years. Overall, 58 natural disasters occurred between January and June this year, with over 31 million people affected and 820 people killed. Compared with the same period in 2013, the number of storms increased by 70 per cent, with more than three times the number of people killed and over 13 million affected.

The Philippines and China were the most disaster-affected countries, with the deadliest storms killing 253 people and causing over US$6.1 billion in economic losses in the first half of the year.

Heavy rains and strong winds posed increased difficulties over areas that are still recovering from last year’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines, as survivors were forced to flee from damaged emergency shelters. With the upcoming storm season, the North-West Pacific might be extensively affected by further storm surges.


Humanitarian access continues to pose a challenge in Myanmar, where life-saving services were severely disrupted after attacks against aid agencies in March. Tensions remain high throughout Rakhine and Kachin States following inter-communal violence and fighting between Government forces and troops, with over 236,000 people still displaced. In Thailand, a mass exodus of approximately 120,000 Cambodians returning to Cambodia occurred after an announcement by the Thai Government that they would seek stronger regulation for migrant workers from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, nutritional and funding constraints were exacerbated, leaving 2.4 million vulnerable people still in need of regular food assistance and restricting the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate in the country. In southern Philippines, ongoing clashes in the Zamboanga conflict continued to displace over 26,000 people in transitory sites, leaving them with little access to basic services, such as healthcare, employment or education.

Overall, the number of disasters increased from previous years, with most of the events taking place in China (18), Indonesia (9) and the Philippines (5). However, the extent of annual flooding was less severe with fewer losses but greater numbers of people affected.

Similarly, losses from earthquakes dropped significantly over the last four years.

Indonesia experienced two volcanic eruptions in January and February, which led to the displacement of thousands and accounted for 39 deaths. In the Solomon Islands, heavy rain from Tropical Cyclone Ita caused severe flooding at the beginning of April 2014, killing 22 people and affecting over 50,000. The most severely affected area was the capital, Honiara. In Thailand, an unusually long cold spell across the north, north-east and central parts of the country claimed 63 lives in the beginning of the year, with Bangkok experiencing its coldest night in three decades in January

Myanmar: Extra support for Myanmar water programme

11 September 2014 - 8:53pm
Source: Government of the Netherlands Country: Myanmar, Netherlands

In the coming years, the Netherlands will contribute more to the development of water management in Myanmar. Lilianne Ploumen, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, will make extra funding available for the exchange of knowledge, capacity building and the appointment of a Dutch water coordinator.

Ms Ploumen announced this after a lunch with the Burmese president U Thein Sein, who is paying a two-day visit to the Netherlands to strengthen bilateral trade ties.

The Netherlands and Myanmar have worked together in the field of water management for some years now. Since January 2014, for instance, a Dutch Risk Reduction Team has been carrying out a strategic delta study in Myanmar to explore flood prevention strategies. The extra contribution of €3 million will be used, among other things, to develop water management models and train Burmese officials. ‘Myanmar is among the countries hardest hit by water disasters in recent years,’ the minister said. ‘It is in great need of help in the field of water management. Our experts and businesses have the necessary expertise to assist.’

Yesterday Ms Ploumen attended a roundtable discussion with President Thein Sein and Dutch CEOs. She also talked to the Burmese foreign minister, Wanna Maung Lwin. During these talks she stressed the importance of further democratic reforms, respect for human rights and a lasting truce between government forces and the various armed groups. ‘In a short space of time Myanmar has made an impressive transition from a dictatorship to a country of greater democracy’, she said. ‘But these are still early days. It is important that the government involve all ethnic groups in this process and protect the rights of minorities.’

Ms Ploumen visited Myanmar last year with a business delegation to promote trade relations. While there she also opened a new trade office in Yangon. Opportunities for Dutch businesses in Myanmar lie primarily in the fields of water, infrastructure and agri-food.

In May 2013 and June 2014, the Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, visited Myanmar to further strengthen water cooperation.

Philippines: Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Bulletin January - June 2014

11 September 2014 - 9:10am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste preview


  • Natural Disasters and Conflicts in Asia-Pacific
  • Funding Trends
  • Preparedness Activities in Asia-Pacific
  • WHS Regional Consultation for N&SE Asia
  • Philippines
  • Myanmar
  • El Niño in Asia-Pacific
  • Communications with Communities
  • Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination



The first six months of 2014 saw the most intense and highest number of storms in Asia and the Pacific compared to the same period over the last five years. Overall, 58 natural disasters occurred between January and June this year, with over 31 million people affected and 820 people killed. Compared with the same period in 2013, the number of storms increased by 70 per cent, with more than three times the number of people killed and over 13 million affected.

The Philippines and China were the most disaster-affected countries, with the deadliest storms killing 253 people and causing over US$6.1 billion in economic losses in the first half of the year.
Heavy rains and strong winds posed increased difficulties over areas that are still recovering from last year’s devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the central Philippines, as survivors were forced to flee from damaged emergency shelters. With the upcoming storm season, the North-West Pacific might be extensively affected by further storm surges.


Humanitarian access continues to pose a challenge in Myanmar, where life-saving services were severely disrupted after attacks against aid agencies in March. Tensions remain high throughout Rakhine and Kachin States following inter-communal violence and fighting between Government forces and troops, with over 236,000 people still displaced. In Thailand, a mass exodus of approximately 120,000 Cambodians returning to Cambodia occurred after an announcement by the Thai Government that they would seek stronger regulation for migrant workers from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, nutritional and funding constraints were exacerbated, leaving 2.4 million vulnerable people still in need of regular food assistance and restricting the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate in the country. In southern Philippines, ongoing clashes in the Zamboanga conflict continued to displace over 26,000 people in transitory sites, leaving them with little access to basic services, such as healthcare, employment or education.

Overall, the number of disasters increased from previous years, with most of the events taking place in China (18), Indonesia (9) and the Philippines (5). However, the extent of annual flooding was less severe with fewer losses but greater numbers of people affected.

Similarly, losses from earthquakes dropped significantly over the last four years.

Indonesia experienced two volcanic eruptions in January and February, which led to the displacement of thousands and accounted for 39 deaths. In the Solomon Islands, heavy rain from Tropical Cyclone Ita caused severe flooding at the beginning of April 2014, killing 22 people and affecting over 50,000. The most severely affected area was the capital, Honiara. In Thailand, an unusually long cold spell across the north, north-east and central parts of the country claimed 63 lives in the beginning of the year, with Bangkok experiencing its coldest night in three decades in January.

Myanmar: Ethnic peacemakers reach ‘non-negotiable’ position

11 September 2014 - 2:50am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar


Ethnic peace negotiators got down to brass tacks on Wednesday during their second day of meetings in Chiang Mai, Thailand, taking up specific issues of troop placement and post-ceasefire recruitment.

Nai Hongsa, vice-chairman of the Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), said that the ethnic peacemaking bloc debated whether military operations should remain as they are during the transitional period between signing a ceasefire and implementing political dialogue.

“We discussed how armed groups should proceed during the transitional period,” he told DVB on Wednesday. “[We decided that] Things should stay as they are now, with troops in their current positions. We are also reviewing requests that there be no new recruitment after signing the ceasefire.”

The three-day meeting is focused primarily on the third draft of a nationwide ceasefire agreement, which is expected to be signed by the end of this year and would later be signed into law though parliamentary approval.

The most recent and perhaps final draft was agreed upon during the most recent round of meetings between the NCCT and the government’s negotiating team, the Union Peace-making Work Committee (UPWC), held in Rangoon in August.

NCCT deputy leader and vice-chief of staff for the Kachin Independence Organisation, Maj-Gen Gun Maw, downplayed the meetings as “nothing special”, explaining that the team is simply reviewing an agreement that has already undergone several rounds of debate.

“We are discussing the draft agreement that came out of our meetings in Rangoon. We are reviewing the document and adding a few points to discuss with government. Nothing special. We aim to finish the draft,” he said.

The NCCT and the UPWC have announced plans to meet in late September, but no date has yet been set. An original August deadline for reaching a nationwide accord came and went, with some players in the peace process predicting that the agreement would be reached by mid-September, when a fresh session of the Union Parliament is set to begin.

The government’s chief peace negotiator, Aung Min, now predicts that a nationwide ceasefire will be signed by the end of October.

Nai Hongsa, however, said that the ethnic groups have now reached an agreement on most issues, and moving forward will depend on whether Naypyidaw can meet their needs during the next round of bilateral talks.

“I don’t know what the government’s position is on all of these issues, but from our perspective, we have now reached a non-negotiable position,” he said.

Myanmar: UNDP Assistant Administrator Haoliang Xu and OCHA Director of Operations John Ging conclude visit to Rakhine State

11 September 2014 - 2:15am
Source: UN Development Programme, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

Joint press release

Yangon - UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Haoliang Xu and OCHA Director of Operations John Ging have concluded a two-day visit to Rakhine State, to review the humanitarian and development needs affecting people in Rakhine, and to assess efforts to increase cohesion and peaceful coexistence between communities.

They commended the Government and the support of the UN and International NGO partners for the work they are doing and concluded that increased humanitarian assistance and development efforts are urgently needed to benefit all vulnerable people in Rakhine.

“Stability and sustainable peace can be achieved in Rakhine State when the needs of all communities are met,” said Mr Xu, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia Pacific. “We need both to address immediate needs of all vulnerable people and to increase the capacity of the state to provide quality basic services including healthcare, education, water, livelihoods and infrastructure”.

He also observed that “more work is needed to improve relations between different ethnic groups in Rakhine and to find durable solutions for displaced people”.

“It is clear that progress has been made since my last visit one year ago and that is truly impressive given the challenges and setbacks you have faced. However, we must all redouble our efforts to do more,” said Mr. Ging. “The humanitarian situation is still unacceptably dire for far too many people, but thanks to the outstanding efforts of aid organisations the humanitarian situation is now stabilizing”.

The mission also saw the positive and practical results of intercommunal dialogue, in the construction of new roads and bridges to improve economic activity between communities. “These projects give us a real basis for hope but we must not underestimate the challenges ahead, one of the most critical being a just and equitable resolution to the citizenship issue,” said Mr Ging.

Mr Xu and Mr Ging started their visit to Rakhine State on Monday. Rakhine is Myanmar’s second poorest region, with a population of more than three million. Restrictions on the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of people in Rakhine State severely compromise their basic rights to food, health, education and livelihoods, leaving them dependent on humanitarian assistance.

They visited camps in Sittwe and Pauk Taw where the UN and the international system are providing humanitarian assistance, as well as villages in Minbya and Sittwe where UNDP is working with communities to strengthen social cohesion and improve basic services.

Yesterday, together with the Chief Minister His Excellency U Maung Maung Ohn, they inaugurated construction work of a bridge that will connect four villages to the Rakhine capital, supported by UNDP and State Government.

Mr Xu and Mr Ging will hold high level meetings in Nay Pyi Taw today, including with the Vice President His Excellency U Sai Mauk Kham.

This joint mission of senior development and humanitarian officials reflects the importance in which Myanmar and its future are held by the United Nations.

For further information, contact:

Shobhna Decloitre, UNDP Communications Specialist on or Tel: +95 (0) 9250345158

Pierre Peron, OCHA Public Information and Advocacy Officer on or Tel: +95 (0)9250198997

Myanmar: Violence in Rakhine creates long-term needs

11 September 2014 - 12:17am
Source: International Committee of the Red Cross Country: Myanmar

Five months after violence disrupted humanitarian operations in Rakhine state, the ICRC has restarted a full range of activities there for the Muslim and ethnic Rakhine communities alike.

"The Muslim and ethnic Rakhine communities are both suffering the long-term effects of violence. Access to essential health care and clean water has been seriously affected, as has the capacity to earn a livelihood," said Enrique Ochoa, head of the ICRC’s office in Sittwe. Since resuming its programmes in May, the organization has been tackling a broad range of problems faced by both communities.

"We are in regular contact with community leaders to help define programmes and tailor them to meet specific needs in a transparent and independent manner," added Mr Ochoa.

The ICRC is carrying out 14 hospital restoration projects in Rakhine designed to enhance health-care infrastructure and services. At the same time, it sponsors the work of local health personnel, including midwives, and contributes to trauma-care training for doctors from various townships. In addition, the ICRC has donated solar-powered refrigerators to support national immunization programmes in the state, and continues to donate medicines and medical consumables to the local ministry of health for use in Sittwe and other township hospitals and mobile clinics.

In northern Rakhine, the ICRC is looking at ways to assist the ministry of health’s existing medical facilities in the Maungdaw and Buthidaung areas.

Working closely with local authorities and community elders, the ICRC has provided seed and fertilizer to small-scale farmers in villages in Sittwe, Pauk-taw, Kyauk-taw and Minbya. Action taken to provide drinking water has benefited over 20,000 displaced people from both communities living in camps and rural areas, while rainwater harvesting systems and ceramic water filters have also been provided. A programme to fence community water storage ponds to avoid contamination by livestock has now been concluded in three townships.

People in three camps with no access to firewood for cooking have received biodegradable fuel sticks made of rice husk. Some 20,000 people received roofing tarpaulins to keep them dry during the wet season. Grants in cash and kind for small business ventures have provided 600 families with a sustainable income. The grants enabled people to buy fishing equipment, livestock, supplies for setting up grocery shops or tricycle taxis, or start small businesses. More than 20,000 people have received this kind of assistance since programmes restarted in May.

Kachin and eastern states

In the north-east of the country, where sporadic fighting still continues despite positive steps in the peace process, the ICRC is focused on supporting health facilities, enhancing services for people with disabilities and generating income streams for displaced families.

Projects to improve health services for both resident and displaced communities started in February in the towns of Laiza, Majayan and Bhamo in Kachin state. Laiza hospital receives comprehensive support through on-the-job training, equipment overhauls and donations of supplies. The ICRC is also upgrading power, water supply, sanitary and medical-waste disposal facilities. In tandem, we are continuing medical training in Kachin and Shan states, boosting the expertise of health personnel in areas such as surgical management techniques and the treatment of weapon injuries.

Plans are under way to build a physical rehabilitation centre at Myitkyina hospital to provide artificial limbs and other services for physically disabled people living in northern Myanmar. The ICRC and the Myanmar Red Cross have started running a mobile repair service for physically disabled people whose devices need repair, improving their access to orthopaedic services across the north and east of Myanmar.

For further information, please contact:

Michael O’Brien, ICRC Yangon, tel: +95 9 420 107 606

Ewan Watson, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 33 45 or +41 79 244 64 70

Myanmar: Peace Talks, “Now Decisive Phase”

10 September 2014 - 4:28pm
Source: Missionary International Service News Agency Country: Myanmar

he Nationwide Ceasefire Coordination Team (NCCT), set up by 16 negotiators of armed ethnic movements, met in Chiang Mai, in Thailand, to discuss a third and maybe final draft accord for a national cease-fire that should be signed by the end of September.

“This is the final accord proposal that needs approval. We just need to clarify some issues that were raised in the two meetings in Laiza, in Kachin State near the Chinese border, and in Yangon”, said the spokesman of the team, Khun Okkar. Some NCCT members said that the meetings were positive and that the announcement by government representatives of a possible opening to federalism had been encouraging.

The Burman peace process has had highs and lows over the past three years, due to the difficulty of efforts of negotiators that are trying to end decades of civil war between the central government and armed ethnic groups. On August 31, during a meeting of the Burmese government and the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) one of the largest armed ethnic organizations, the Karen National Union (KNU), abandoned the talks and suspended its membership with the UNFC. “This alliance is costing us our autonomy. It is a structure in which our fate would be in the hands of the leadership. We cannot accept this. We have to continue representing the Karen people and often the alliance doesn’t take our interests into consideration”, said the KNU secretary general Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win.

The national accord, once signed by the negotiators, will be presented to parliament and signed into law. The groups that refuse to sign the accord will have the possibility of ratifying it at a later date. [PL/BO]

World: Gains made protecting children in situations of armed conflict overshadowed by new global crises, Special Representative tells Security Council

9 September 2014 - 7:58pm
Source: UN Security Council Country: Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Ukraine, World, Yemen, South Sudan

Security Council
7259th Meeting* (AM)

Acknowledgement of Abuses Not Enough Survivor Says, Calling for Perpetrators to Be Held Accountable

In an all-day debate in the Security Council, over 60 speakers urged accelerated action to prevent and ensure accountability for the killing, recruiting and other abuse of children in situations of armed conflict that continued despite greater awareness of the scourge.

"You have the reports, you know the criminals, but acknowledgement is not enough,” said Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a survivor of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who, as a 10-year old, endured the burning of her family's tent in an attack on a refugee camp in Burundi. "You must take action for the nightmares to stop,” she added.

During the discussion the Council had before it the Secretary-General’s latest report on the issue (document S/2014/339), which lists eight countries and 51 non-State actors — including, for the first time, the Nigerian militia Boko Haram — that recruit, kill, maim or sexually abuse children, or engage in attacks on schools and hospitals. It describes threats to children in situations on the Council’s agenda.

Briefing the Council at the opening of the debate, Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that new crises such as the one caused by Boko Haram had rapidly overshadowed gains made by international initiatives and pointed also to the horrors resulting from the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL. She also underlined the continuing carnage in Syria and high toll of the resurgence of conflict in Gaza.

She highlighted, in addition, children's suffering from the instability and tensions in Libya, Afghanistan, Mali, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, due to the activity of armed groups and military responses that often had little or no respect for civilians. On the other hand, there had been some progress through action plans in Chad, Yemen and South Sudan. Follow through on such plans was key, as was engaging non-State actors. She affirmed that ending impunity for violators of children’s rights was crucial.

Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that, since the last meeting and following the launch of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign by her agency and Ms. Zerrougui’s office, there had been progress in getting children released not only from Government armed forces, but also from non-Governmental groups in the Philippines and Myanmar. The Syrian Free Army had pledged its commitment to child protection, as well. Noting continued abuses, she urged greater efforts to change the attitudes of combatants be pursued.

In other briefings, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, described his Department’s support of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign and its partnerships with international child protection partners and its training of peacekeepers in standards and methods of child protection. Finally, Forest Whitaker, Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), relaying the individual experience of children that were used by armed groups, stressed that getting those young people released was an important first step, but assisting them to integrate into normal life was just as crucial, lest they be prey to returning to conflict.

Following those presentations, representatives of Member States affirmed their concern over the continued threats to children in situations of armed conflict and urged greater international response in the areas of prevention, prosecution of perpetrators and assistance to survivors. Many focused on emergent threats, such as ISIL and Boko Haram, and the situations in Syria and Gaza, as well as the range surveyed by Ms. Zerrougi. Attacks on schools, as well as their use for military purposes drew condemnation from many.

Welcoming the Children, Not Soldiers initiative and the signing of action plans for the release of children from the armed forces of some countries, many speakers called for the negotiation of more such plans, follow-through action and the engagement of non-State actors, noting that they represented 51 out of 59 parties listed in the Secretary-General’s report.

Most welcomed progress in some countries, noting the delisting of Chad from the group of violators. The representative of that country thanked the United Nations system for assistance in that effort. The representative of Somalia expressed hope that his country would be the next to be delisted, following its signing of an action plan and follow through.

In that vein, the representative of Nigeria said that his country had made a priority of ending the ravages of Boko Haram through a multi-track strategy, with international assistance. The representative of Iraq said that his country was working with international partners to protect its children from terrorist actions. He disagreed with the Secretary-General’s suggestion that children may serve on the country’s armed forces, however, as it was prohibited for those under age 18 to serve.

The Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg also made a statement.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Australia, Lithuania, Jordan, France, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Chile, Argentina, China, Rwanda, United States, Pakistan, Turkey, Colombia, Brazil, Sweden, Mexico, Thailand, Italy, Azerbaijan, Syria, Austria, Israel, Qatar, Iran, Germany, Malaysia, Guatemala, Estonia, Algeria, Belgium, India, Japan, Portugal, Poland, Canada, Indonesia, Morocco, Uruguay, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Botswana, Myanmar, Somalia, Montenegro, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Philippines, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

Representatives of the European Union Delegation and the League of Arab States also spoke.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 5:40 p.m.


LEILA ZERROUGUI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that, although progress had been made towards better protecting children, new crises had rapidly overshadowed those gains. Recalling that the Council had been briefed repeatedly about Syria, she underscored that the situation there remained grave for children. The Council, as well, had witnessed first-hand the conditions for children in Sudan and Somalia. “Children in these and other conflicts are paying a high price,” she stated.

The violations by all parties to the conflict in Iraq were increasing, she said. Up to 700 children had been killed or maimed in that country since the beginning of 2014, including in summary executions. In its expansion from Syria into Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had been targeting minorities, including children and women, tasking boys as young as 13 to carry weapons, guard strategic locations or arrest civilians. Other children were being used as suicide bombers. Allied militia of the Iraq Government, as well, were using children in the fight against the “Islamic State” and the whereabouts of children jailed on security charges by the Government was unknown following the militias’ storming of those facilities in July.

Boko Harmam had been listed this year for the killing and maiming of children and attacks on schools and hospitals, she said. Verification and monitoring systems were being implemented to better gather information of violations against children in northern Nigeria. Such targeted attacks had led to the death of 100 schoolchildren and 70 teachers in the north-east and more than 200 girls were still in the hands of Boko Harmam. The armed group was also recruiting and using boys and girls as young as 12 years old in their attacks. There were also reports of violations by Government forces in northern Nigeria, as well. The Nigerian Government had just announced an investigation into those incidents.

She stated that there had also been a “horrific toll” on children in the conflict in Gaza. Casualties had surpassed previous escalations in 2008-2009 and 2012 combined. Since the beginning of July, this year, more than 500 Palestinian children had been killed and at least 2,106 injured and maimed by Israeli forces. At least 244 schools, including 75 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), had been shelled by the Israel Defense Forces. Access to education in Gaza was severely affected and would remain limited for the foreseeable future. In addition, medical personnel had been killed and half of Gaza’s hospitals damaged. Hamas rocket fire had killed one Israeli child and injured six others since the beginning of July, and the indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian areas had damaged three schools in Israel. She called for the events in Gaza to be thoroughly investigated and for the perpetrators to be identified from all parties to the conflict and held accountable.

She went on to say that the rising instability and tensions in Libya, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Mali and South Sudan were resulting in both armed groups and military responses that utilized methods of warfare with little or no respect for civilians. Governments must adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. The fight against impunity remained one of the key aspects in efforts to not only react to, but prevent grave violations against children. There needed to be a better use of tools in ensuring perpetrators faced prosecution, including by sanction regimes, doubling efforts to enhance national capacities in the judicial sector and by strengthening the framework of international justice, including the referral of perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.

Six months ago her Office, with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), had launched a global campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, towards the goal of no children in Government forces by the end of 2016. There was overwhelming support from countries concerned and the Security Council, as well as regional organizations and non-governmental organization and Member States. The Government of Chad had already fulfilled all the requirements under its action plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children in its armed forces and had been recently delisted from the Secretary-General’s report on the matter. Yemen had also signed an action plan and recently South Sudan had recommitted to its action plan signed in 2012. Progress had also been made in Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The majority of parties listed were non-State actors, she said. The Office had concluded an equal number of action plans with both State and non-State actors, with the latter approaching the Office and partners on the ground to conclude their action plans. Recently, the Free Syrian Army had made a commitment to end child recruitment. Riek Machar of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had also signed such a commitment. Other non-State armed groups in Darfur were also making progress towards those goals.

“I cannot overemphasize the importance for specific attention to the plight of child victims of armed conflict in peace processes and agreements,” she stressed. As children were a country’s future, long-standing peace would never be achieved without giving them the means, skills and education to re-build their society and institution. More must be done to include special provisions for children affected by conflict into peace agreements.

Concluding, she pointed out that, in light of the Secretary-General’s report and all the briefings on conflicts presented to the Security Council, it was not possible to consider children as a “collateral” issue. “Indeed, we now know that, in a large majority of conflicts around the world, children are targeted and used deliberately,” she stated. The Council must place children at the centre of each and every peace and security action it took, from peace agreements to mission mandates to accountability for crimes. “I count on you, but more importantly, the child victims around the world count on you,” she stated.

HERVÉ LADSOUS, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said partnerships and coordination of action with international child protection partners enabled his Department to contribute to a comprehensive response to address the plight of children. Partnerships with Member States, particularly troop- and police-contributing countries enabled the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to lead by example and uphold exemplary conduct and actions across the spectrum of actors. Most importantly, the Department must establish partnerships with States in which United Nations peacekeeping operations are deployed, for them to uphold their primary responsibility of protecting children. In that regard, the Department would spare no efforts to promote the Children, Not Soldiers campaign and support the Governments and security forces of Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be free of child soldiers by 2016.

Beyond the campaign, Governments must also set the example and support access for monitoring, assistance, and engagement with armed troops, he said. That remained a challenge, particularly in places such as Sudan or Mali. When negotiating peace or ceasefires, States must lead by example and prioritize the inclusion of non-negotiable child protection provisions in all agreements. Robust action against armed groups holding child soldiers had also taken place, which required United Nations peacekeepers to show courage and uphold the highest standards of conduct and integrity. Troops were required to understand how such military actions must be tailored to the specific needs of girls and boys.

To that end, he said, a specialized training module on child protection for the military had been developed and finalized in early 2014. The modules, piloted in Malaysia and Uruguay in 2013, had now been shared with all troop-contributing countries. He noted that continued support — through follow-on instructional activities back home that enhanced child protection training for their troops — was required from all countries that had sent personnel to attend the courses. A specialized training module was also being developed for the United Nations police, with a focus on capacity-building for host State police, as well as wider legal reforms, corrections and juvenile justice issues.

YOKA BRANDT, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, said it was a “terrible irony” that in the twenty-fifth year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, that so many atrocities against children had been committed. Since the last open debate on the matter, children in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Gaza and the Central African Republic had been recruited, used in conflict, orphaned or killed, with many witnessing massacres. Despite global advocacy efforts, Government and non-State armed groups continued to use schools to store weapons, detain prisoners and house soldiers. Schools, teachers, and students had been targeted, with 200 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing after being abducted.

The initiative by the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and its partners which advocated schools as safe and protected spaced was most welcomed, she said, along with the new Lucens Guidelines which outlined actions Governments could take to end military use of schools. All Member States should support and implement those Guidelines. The other initiative, “Children, Not Soldiers”, had received commitments by eight concerned countries to protect children. Encouraging results included Myanmar’s armed forces releasing 91 children; Democratic Republic of the Congo’s implementation of its action plan, with the release of hundreds of children and the appointment of a Presidential Adviser on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment; and the delisting of Chad.

However, she said, focus must stay on persistent challenges, especially the recruitment of children by non-State armed groups. In the Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan, among others, children were continuing to be mobilized, manning checkpoints, loading weapons, carrying guns, participating in armed conflict, and being subject to sexual violence. Nonetheless, some armed groups were taking “bold steps” to end that practice. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines had convened a meeting with 30 of its commanders and had recommitted to protecting children. In Myanmar, the country task force had begun discussions with the Karen National Union, Karenni National Progress Party and the Kachin Independence Organization, in efforts to engage other listed parties soon.

Still, additional initiatives were needed, she stressed, calling for more negotiations to release children held by armed groups. Further, stronger efforts to change attitudes about the role of children in conflict was needed, along with more rehabilitation centres to help “mend [children’s] hearts and minds”, so that they could have a better, more prosperous future.

FOREST WHITAKER, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, having recently returned from a trip to South Sudan, said the situation there remained dire. “After meeting with generals on the ground, soldiers and civilians, I fear there is no end in sight to the violence.” Nine months after the conflict started, most of the 100,000 children who had sought shelter in the over-crowded protection of civilian camps around the country still did not feel it was safe to go back home. The city of Bentiu in the north was all but deserted; houses burned to the ground, hospitals closed and villages destroyed.

The conditions many children in South Sudan must endure were particularly concerning, he said. In some of the protection of civilian camps, some of the boys’ and girls’ hair was turning red from malnutrition. Hundreds of schools were empty and some had been turned into military camps. Perhaps worst of all, he witnessed many children wearing military uniforms and carrying guns. The idea of children living in military camps or fighting wars was unconscionable. “Inhumane in the strictest sense of the word, it robbed its victims of a phase of their lives to which every human being is entitled.”

“Though children may become soldiers for a variety of reasons, the practice was singularly and universally unacceptable, and it must end,” he said. One stubborn challenge that remained was that of reintegrating former child soldiers into their families and communities, which was often a long, complex and resource-intensive process. Supporting Governments to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers was a paramount and necessary first step, but the international community must also devote adequate resources to caring for the children once they were brought home. Concrete action must be taken to ensure former child soldiers were not recruited back to the battlefield in future conflicts. Doing so would not only give the children a chance to live normal, healthy lives, but would also help prevent future violence.

In the last few years, important strides towards ending the use of child soldier around the world had been made, he said. Countries that had long been among the most egregious violators were now showing a true will to reform. The Security Council and the international community must continue to support such efforts without compromise or exception. Just as importantly, necessary resources must be put into place to strengthen the programmes that were needed to truly rebuild those children’s lives. “Unless we are there to meet them with open arms, open homes, and open schools, their wars will never end. And neither will ours.”

SANDRA UWIRINGIYIMANA, a survivor of violence from the Democratic Republic of Congo, described her earliest memories of spending nights hiding in bushes, dropping out of school whenever a new war broke out and recoiling from such images as a Congolese soldier marching in the streets with a head impaled on a stick. Finally fleeing such violence in 2004, the family made it to a United Nations refugee camp in Gatumba, Burundi, after experiencing beatings and being robbed of all their belongings. After a few months, however, their tent was set ablaze by armed men, with wounded family members inside, and she had to run away into the night. She was 10 years old.

She said that the only way to stop such horrors was to bring people like those who participated in the Gatumba attack to justice. "Only then will millions of survivors like me hear loud and clear that our lives have value," she said. She and her siblings were now doing well, having been resettled in the United States through a United Nations programme. She affirmed that resettlement and treatment for survivors was important. "But, healing and peace will not come until there is justice. You have the reports, you know the criminals, but acknowledgement is not enough. You must take action for the nightmares to stop," she concluded.


JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, said that, despite the many resolutions adopted by the Council on children and armed conflict, young people continued to pay a very heavy price during conflicts. Recounting that children were being killed, maimed, abducted, sexually abused, recruited by Government forces and non-State actors alike in Syria, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Gaza and Iraq, to name a few, he stressed the importance of ensuring that group’s right to education. “The ignorance stemming from a deficit of education fosters intolerance and perpetuates the cycle of poverty, thus contributing to feeding the violence,” he stated.

He said that whether through country-specific resolutions, peacekeeping operations mandates, sanctions regimes or the conclusions adopted by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, the Council must be coherent and concretely apply what it had committed to in its thematic resolutions. In addition, the fight against impunity was critical, and, in that regard, the Council must act, including making referrals to the International Criminal Court.

Over 10,000 children had been killed in Syria, he pointed out, with thousands more being maimed and scarred for life, both physically and psychologically. Reports of abuse by ISIL were increasing, with more than 500 children killed in Iraq since the beginning of 2014. Close to 500 children had been killed in the Gaza strip, as well and Boko Haram had also committed grave violations against young people, among other situations. However, because of the efforts of the Special Representative, Governments were continuing to make commitments to protect children, he said, noting progress made by Yemen, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar. He called on the Council to pursue eliminating the “worst aspects of conflict” and bringing practical solutions to end the violations and abuses committed against children.

BANTE MANGARAL ( Chad) pointed to a "staggering increase" in the number of serious crimes against children, with perpetrators going unpunished despite the provisions of international law. Schools were targets in States such as Mali, Yemen, Nigeria and Afghanistan, and the intensification of several conflicts explained the increased violence. The United Nations was considering a strategic approach to addressing the situation. Praising the role of the United Nations and the support given by the Security Council, he said it was important not to lose track of the fact that increases in violence against children were linked to impunity. The report called for strengthening of the protection of children and the work of the Office on Children and Armed Conflict, alongside regional and subregional organization in the field, would be vital. Underlining the importance of the Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict, he said it should continue to work with different actors and could further participate in the protection of children. Political will of countries involved in Action Plans was essential and Chad stood ready to share its own experiences of efforts to achieve delisting.

MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) praised the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, listing recent achievements including commitments made by the South Sudan Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army to end violations against children. Ms. Zerrougi's work included important advocacy, field visits and the Children, Not Soldiers campaign. Chad had fulfilled its Action Plan and was now delisted. Continued efforts to build on that progress were needed and Chad should share its successes. The Secretary-General's report described progress, but moving evidence presented to the Council proved the "horrifying scale of violations" still ongoing. In Syria, 5.5 million children were missing out on education. To combat that, the United Kingdom supported the "No Lost Generation" initiative to try to meet children's needs. The abductions of girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram were a "barbaric abuse of children" and perpetrators had to be held to account by the International Criminal Court.

U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) recounted first-hand experiences of Boko Haram, particularly their targeting of schools. The group's ideology propelled them to attack schools and the Nigerian Government condemned their activities and sought to prevent them. The help of the United Nations was vital to routing and defeating Boko Haram and rescuing the girls. Nigeria had a multi-track strategy to combat Boko Haram, with a comprehensive programme of assistance targeting some of the most vulnerable parts of the country. Securing educational facilities was a key pillar of the strategy and measures included construction of perimeter fences, providing housing for teachers, enhancing community policing and installing school guards and alarm systems. Spending totalled $20 million with a target of $100 million and the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB) and other partners had committed to helping. In north-east Nigeria, efforts to tackle the socioeconomic situations that fuelled vulnerabilities were under way. Under a de-radicalizations programme, which was also central to the strategy, extremists were to be reintegrated into society through engagement in transformative activities.

GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) described the "dire" situation children faced around the world, including killings, recruitment as soldiers, sexual violence, kidnapping and attacks on their schools. He pointed to progress, including the delisting of Chad's armed forces since verification of their compliance with the Action Plan; the Somali Government's recommitment to making its army child-free; the signing of an action plan by Yemen; and the recent release by Myanmar of 91 child soldiers. Much more work was needed, with recruitment of children by non-State armed groups particularly concerning. The impact of military activities on schools also needed addressing, together with ensuring accountability for violators of children's rights. The Children, Not Soldiers campaign was among several measures necessary to end recruitment of children and other grave violations by non-State actors. Progress had been made in the Philippines, with the Action Plan between the United Nations and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front the only one in place with a non-State actor. He called for more work to protect schools, to end impunity and to address perpetrators of violations against children through targeted Security Council sanctions.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) linked the availability and proliferation of modern light weapons to the wide-spread involvement of children in conflicts and stressed the importance of implementing resolution 2117 (2013). Girls were especially vulnerable to kidnap and sexual exploitation, and child recruitment was a major concern. Several Governments had attempted to address the problem under the Children, Not Soldiers campaign and only Sudan had not signed an action plan to stop recruitment. Various armed groups around the world, including Boko Haram and ISIL, were guilty of child abduction, murder and other acts of "rare barbarity and violence". The Security Council should use tools such as sanctions to tackle recruitment of and violence against children, while the failure of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to adopt its conclusions on Syria, where more than 10,000 children were affected, was a major concern. Resolution 2143 (2014) demanded respect for and protection of schools during conflict and the recent situation in Gaza reminded States of the "huge gap between the letter of the resolution and its implementation". Attacks on schools and their conversion for military use were deplorable and "in blatant violation of international humanitarian law" and the resolution.

DINA KAWAR ( Jordan) said that her country was surrounded by States where children were being maltreated, regretting international inaction on ending violence in Syria in particular. In Iraq, she called on all communities to unite in an inclusive arrangement to end the violence. She avowed that Islamist extremist groups had hijacked and distorted Islam there. On the Palestinian territories, she expressed worries about new generations of extremism being produced by what she called brutal Israeli practices in Gaza and elsewhere. Her country would continue to support efforts to end violence against children in armed conflict.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) welcomed recent United Nations efforts to end recruitment of children by armed groups, and maintaining that the United Nations must set it self up as an example, called for a clarification of rules on participation of contingents in peacekeeping operations in that context. He expressed grave concern over the situation in Iraq and Syria, seeing hope, however in recent commitments by the Free Syrian Army. He looked forward to the full deployment of peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. All must work to institute the Paris Principles to end all abuse of children in armed conflict, to which purpose his Government would remain dedicated.

EVGENY ZAGAYNOV ( Russian Federation) said equal attention must be paid to all six violations of the rights of children named in the last resolution on the issue. The Security Council working group must concentrate, for that purpose, on situations already on the Council agenda. He expressed concern over the situation of children in Ukraine, citing figures of child deaths and other damage from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the rejection of humanitarian assistance by Kyiv. He hoped that recent agreements would ameliorate the situation, but it remained of grave concern. Internationally, clear criteria for listing and delisting must be established and must be as impartial, accurate and transparent as possible.

OH JOON ( Republic of Korea) said that the changing character of warfare was adding to the risks of children and time-bound strategies need to be instituted to end it. The special needs of girls must be particularly addressed, as shown by the situation in Nigeria, given the marginalization caused by rape and other sexual abuses. In addition, the flow of arms to conflicts must be controlled and the Arms Trade Treaty implemented. It was particularly important to ensure accountability for persistent violators of children's rights. National judicial systems should be empowered to prosecute such crimes and sanctions used in effective ways, he stressed.

CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile), associating himself with the Human Security Network, pointed to the changing nature of conflict, which included increased attacks on children, saying that ongoing attention to the subject was needed. The Secretary-General's recommendations should be supported, as should the work of Ms. Zerrougui and of civil society. The fact that eight countries had committed to ending the use of children in State security service was a positive development, while progress on releasing them and ending recruitment by non-State armed groups was also good news. The primary responsibility for ending impunity lay with States and those responsible for heinous crimes against children should be tried and condemned. If States were unable to fulfil their responsibilities, it would be up to the International Criminal Court to try crimes under the Rome Statute. Evidence preservation was important where crimes did take place, and peacekeepers should be trained in preserving evidence.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL ( Argentina) said the recent escalation in violence between Israel and Palestine had included targeting of hospitals, mosques and protected civilian sites including United Nations facilities. Bombardment of residential areas with heavy weapons had destroyed families and matters of intentionality were blurred in such circumstances. There had to be a cessation of the use of such weapons and doing so should be considered a war crime. The situation in Syria had also worsened and the international community needed to turn its attention there. Consensus was needed in the Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict, as the body had not been able to adopt its conclusions on Syria. A key part was ensuring that weapons no longer be supplied to either side in the conflict. To tackle violence against children, it was vital to fight impunity, particularly where sexual crimes were committed. In addition, it was important to establish dialogue with non-State actors.

LIU JIEYI ( China), stressing efforts made by the international community in addressing the problem of children in armed conflict, outlined several elements of a strategy in that regard. Key to it was prevention and resolution of armed conflicts and the Security Council had a role in preventing it. United Nations agencies and offices needed to leverage their expertise in order to work synergistically in pursuit of the same goal. The primary responsibility for protecting children lay with national Governments and the international community should help them to do so. All parties should cease violence and respect and protect children's lives, with armed groups and non-State actors requiring attention. After conflict, children should be reintegrated into their families, schools and normal lives, and UNICEF and the World Bank should support Government's efforts.

OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE ( Rwanda) described the particular resonance the debate had to his country because of the Tutsi children killed there in 1994, as well as the children who were recruited to carry out the killings. Twenty years later, children still bore the brunt of conflict. In Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, children faced rape and enslavement. Children should not be recruited to kill, but should instead be enrolled in schools and those institutions should never be targeted or used for military purposes. It was concerning that Government security forces remained on the Secretary-General's list of violators and it was important to support the Children, Not Soldiers campaign and to endorse the Secretary-General's call for determined and tangible steps towards action plans. The international community should support national Governments in upholding their responsibility to protect. The United Nations system was committed to the agenda, but the plight of innocent children demanded an answer as to why effective implementation remained a challenge. The international community should redouble its efforts to find out why children paid the heaviest price for wars that adults decided to fight and why bodies such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda were still able to recruit children with virtual impunity.

SAMANTHA POWER ( United States) said that, among the overwhelming figures, it was easy to forget that individual lives were the subject of the discussion. She related the stories of a Yazidi girl taken from Mosul to be raped and to see her family murdered, a boy abducted by combatants in South Sudan and another wounded by a barrel bomb in Syria. Key steps to stemming such abuses included unified condemnation by the Council, such as the condemnation of attacks on and militarization of schools and focussed campaigns to shape action plans and ensure they were carried out. Holding perpetrators accountable was particularly important. Some progress had been made, as in the example of Chad, but much more support to the effort must be given.

MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) condemned use of children in armed conflict and called on all parties to such violence to end such abuses. Significant progress had been made in establishing standards and norms and listing offenders, but the scourge continued. He welcomed the effective mechanisms of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign, and called for strengthening national prosecution capacities. He also welcomed contacts with non-State armed groups, and stressed that schools should neither be attacked or used for military purposes. Peacekeeping missions must receive necessary support to uphold standards of child protection; as a major troop contributor, Pakistan was committed to that effort. References to Phjis country in the Secretary-General's report was not in the purview of that document, however, he maintained.

HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey), describing the suffering of children in conflicts in his region, said a strong display of political will was the most useful tool to end it, in support of United Nations efforts. Child protection should also be mainstreamed into negotiations to end conflict, and peacekeeping and other activities should be conducted in conjunction with regional organizations. Pressure to end use of children by armed groups must continue. In contacting non-State actors it was important to avoid legitimizing them in the process, however. His country supported all international efforts to protect children.

MARIA EMMA MEJÍA VELÉZ ( Colombia) said that the conflict in her country had deeply affected its children and the topic was being addressed in current negotiations to end the conflict. Legal provisions for restitution of lands were also important in that context. Mechanisms to aid child victims were progressing as well. The United Nations was integral to all such progress and she pledged her Government's commitment to continue its cooperation with the Organization.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) said the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict were examples of an enhanced institutional framework on the subject. The recent Guidance Note on protection of schools and hospitals continued that positive trend. International law was clear on the responsibility to protect children in conflicts but more effort was needed to promote diplomatic initiatives aimed at ceasing hostilities and sustaining peace. The International Criminal Court should investigate and prosecute crimes and also provide reparations to victims. Iraq, Syria and Gaza were situations requiring particular attention and Brazil was committed to the No Lost Generation strategy to support Syrian children. Violence was not an automatic result of poverty, but promoting education, social inclusion, food security and a healthy environment could lessen the risks. It was regrettable that developed countries seemed "to continuously work to reduce the United Nations budget for development activities", and Brazil supported sports, arts and cultural activities to promote development.

MARTEN GRUNDITZ (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said new crises overshadowed some recent gains made and stressed that "armed conflict is devastating for children". As well as direct deaths from attacks, children were subject to indirect deaths, too, through disease, starvation and dehydration. Seventy-seven per cent of children who never attended school and the majority of malnourished children were in conflict-affected and fragile States. Protecting them was not just a moral imperative, "but also a security issue, and an economic issue, as children are investments in the future". Peacekeepers needed pre-deployment training in child protection. Basic services needed to be maintained during conflict, including access to education and health care, and attacks on schools and hospitals that deprived children of such rights should be considered war crimes. The situations in Iraq, Syria, several African States and Afghanistan were of grave concern, and the "fact that children constituted almost a quarter of those killed in the Gaza conflict is totally unacceptable".

YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said that there was no shortage of examples of children being impacted by conflict. The principle of the highest interest was that of childhood and all platforms, local, national, regional and international platforms should cooperate to support that. She condemned attacks against schools and hospitals, as well as on heavily populated areas of civilians. Such attacks were contrary to international humanitarian law and she welcomed the recent advancements made on the matter, including the note by UNICEF seeking the implementation of resolution 1998 (2011). In addition, resolution 2143 (2014) was an innovative and positive step forward to protect schools. Attacks on places of learning undermined the future development of societies. Impunity was also a significant obstacle and national authorities and concerned parties must take action to bring those to justice. Accordingly, sanctions committees should take into account children in their mandates and address perpetrators who systematically committed violations.

SHAYAPAN BAMRUNGPHONG ( Thailand), underscoring his country's commitment to the protection of children through various international efforts and conventions, addressed the inclusion in the Secretary-General's report on the situation in Thailand's southern border provinces. That situation did not constitute armed conflict, as defined by international law and should not be included in the report, nor was it on the Council's agenda. Among others, the United Nations should be "extremely mindful" of the sensitivities and complexities of the situation on the ground and work closely with the consent of concerned Governments, particularly when non-State actors were involved. In addition, sources of information should be included in reports and be identifiable and verifiable.

SEBASTIANO CARDI ( Italy) said that cooperation with national and international courts was crucial. In cases where national judicial systems were unable or unwilling to intervene, State parties to the Rome Statute should consider referral to the International Criminal Court. Further, the commitment of the entire United Nations system was critical to ensuring implementation of the architecture created since resolution 1621 (2005) and he commended stakeholders for the development of a comprehensive and systematic training programme on child protection and child rights for all peacekeeping personnel, as well as the campaign "Children, Not Soldiers". "Any boy or girl that we save from the scourge of war represents hope for a better future," he said.

AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) said he was particularly concerned over the negative impact of armed conflicts on refugees and internally displaced persons, many of whom were children. Where the right of return remained challenged and impunity prevailed, reconciliation and sustainable peace would be difficult to achieve. Mechanisms of reconciliation and transitional justice should safeguard rights to restitution, compensation and reparations. The best protection was prevention and the Security Council had a critical role in that regard. Children's rights had to be brought to the forefront of the international humanitarian agenda. The situations faced by internally displaced children needed particular consideration. Children had to be a high priority for the United Nations system and education and training was needed to ensure they could have productive and sustainable livelihoods.

MONIA ALSALEH (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that criminal armed groups were roaming areas controlled by ISIL, making children murderers, training them to kill with weapons heavier than their own bodies. Their innocence had been taken away and replaced with images of them crying slogans of murder. He described a video in which a man whose accent was from the Gulf, not Syria, indoctrinated Syrian children with deliberately twisted religious texts. The Syrian Government had tried to prevent recruitment of children and had adopted a legislative decree to that end. It sought to prevent the targeting of schools, and to tackle violence, sexual exploitation and mutilation of children in Syria. Several investigations had been launched and the Government had provided evidence to the United Nations, including verified information on attacks on schools. He said he asked the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to investigate the recruitment of Syrian children by foreign Powers and asked what the Special Representative had done to deal with crimes committed against children in Syria.

THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Permanent Observer of the European Union Delegation, urged any party guilty of violations described in the report to stop and act to prevent future violations. He also called for accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The European Union Children of Peace initiative sought to educate children in emergencies and he was determined to continue work to prevent their recruitment and to demobilize and reintegrate former child soldiers. The International Criminal Court was essential to the fight against impunity and the Union was investing in child protection across the board. More cooperation was needed with regional and subregional groups to protect children’s rights and the European Union had helped organize a workshop in Addis Ababa recently. The surge in recruitment and use of children in Central African Republic was concerning, as was the deterioration of the situation in South Sudan. Boko Haram’s activities were also worrying and the abuses by all parties carried out in Iraq were deplorable.

ANDREAS RIECKEN ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, highlighted the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 2143 (2014), as well as the work on the so-called “Draft Lucens Guidelines” on the military use of schools. The high number of parties listed in the report’s annexes was of concern, especially the 31 persistent offenders, but significant progress confirmed the benefits and merits of the Security Council framework for tackling the issue. The Government of Chad’s delisting was to be commended as were the efforts of other States that were listed. The report covered persistent violence in several settings but also the emergence of new situations, including in Gaza and Nigeria. It dealt with denial of humanitarian access to civilians, including children, in several countries, a practice prohibited under the Geneva Convention. It was important to remain focused on non-State armed groups because they were the majority of violators, and more efforts were needed to address impunity.

RON PROSOR ( Israel) said that, during the summer, over 3,800 rockets and mortars had been fired into his country, landing on kindergartens, playgrounds and homes. His Government was committed to upholding international law and ensuring the protection of civilians. However, radical extremist groups, such as Hamas, used civilians to achieve their goals, deploying minors as suicide bombers and recruiting them to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. In the recent escalation, they had booby-trapped hundreds of Palestinian homes and had launched M-75 rockets from a children's playground, among other activities. Hamas, as well, had rejected textbooks UNRWA had recently tried to distribute to teach Gaza's children about human rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Over 100,000 Palestinian children had graduated from Hamas' paramilitary camps which encouraged teenagers to "follow in the footsteps of the suicide martyrs". He called for Palestinian leadership to teach its children tolerance, coexistence and mutual understanding.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI ( Qatar) noted the importance of the campaign "Children, Not Soldiers", stating that it came at a critical time. The Secretary-General's report "painted a very painful portrait" of children suffering around the world, including many in the Arab world. Palestinian children were not immune to that suffering, due to the Israeli aggression, which had committed grave violations, with armed forces indiscriminately attacking civilian areas. She condemned the repeated attacks against UNRWA schools and the use of those institutions by parties to the conflict. She noted that, in 24 countries around the world, schools were being used for military activities, as well. Strict measures needed to be taken in regards to those responsible for violations against children and for the adoption of laws that criminalized those acts, holding those accountable.

GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEGHANI (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, despite efforts around the world and measures taken by the Security Council and humanitarian institutions, armed conflicts continued to take a heavy toll on children, in particular, those in occupied Palestinian territories. He called for Israel to be held accountable for crimes against the Palestinian population and for the destruction of Gaza's infrastructure. The Council should bring an end to such violations and the principles of proportionality and the prohibiting of attacking civilian areas needed to be adhered to. He called for the elimination for all forms of discrimination, including the abduction and rape of girls and women as an instrument of war and the trafficking of women and girls. International law needed to be adhered to and perpetrators needed to be brought to justice. To ensure that inroads were made in the protection of children in armed conflicts, it was critical to sustain such advancement. Accordingly, all stakeholders should work closely. Further, information in documents needed to be based on certifiable data and gaps in the reporting process should be addressed and improved.

HEIKO THOMS ( Germany) said that the current "list of shame" showed that dealing with non-State actors remained the biggest challenge, with many of those groups having been listed for "far too long". The international community needed to reinforce its efforts and bring new and creative solutions to deal with those types of violations. The reports about actions by the "Islamic State" and Boko Haram were shocking. In that regard, the concrete Guidance Note on Attacks against Schools and Hospitals was welcomed. It was important that armed forces of those State Parties listed in the Secretary-General's report should only be allowed to contribute troops to United Nations-mandated missions once the full implementation of their action plan to end and prevent violations against children was certified.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-aligned Movement and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), expressed grave concern over continued abuse of children in armed conflict, citing the situation in Gaza and particularly the targeting of schools and hospitals there. He supported additional concrete measures for demilitarization of such institutions. He also supported the initiative to end use of children in armed forces by 2016, and said that those responsible for sexual crimes must be brought to justice. States must strengthen accountability measures and protection of children should be mainstreamed into all Security Council considerations. The issue should remain priority.

MONICA BOLANOS ( Guatemala), also expressing grave concern over threats to children and the emergence of hasher groups such as ISIL, said that the response must evolve with changing circumstances. Legal reforms to combat impunity was particularly important. Her country supported the recent United Nations initiatives to end the use of children in armed conflict, the mainstreaming of child protection into the work of the Security Council and the inclusion of the issue on the agenda of Council visits to the field. The international community must commit itself to do everything possible to improve the situation.

MARGUS KOLGA ( Estonia), aligning himself with the European Union, affirmed that all measures must be taken to end abuse of children in conflict situations, including acceding to the relevant international treaties. Education, in addition, was a key element of prevention. Protection of schools from attacks and military use was necessary. Another important aspect was training peacekeepers in child protection and the deployment of child protection advisers. He said would have liked to have seen more emphasis on ending impunity in the Secretary-General's latest report and more of an effort to get countries to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and to strengthen national prosecution capabilities. "There is never too much we can do for children," he said. "By protecting children, we protect our children."

AHMED AMINFATHALLA of the League of Arab States said that recent crises had increased the suffering of children in the Arab world who represented half of the population there. Their exploitation was banned in the region, but nevertheless, many had become part of the war machine. In recent years, the League had developed frameworks to redress the situation and promote children's rights through cooperation of States in the region. There was extensive engagement with the United Nations system on the issue, including regional promotion of the relevant provisions and protocols of the children's rights convention. Work to gain the cooperation of non-State armed groups had also been undertaken. Turning to the suffering of children in Gaza, he said that they needed greater international assistance and protection of their rights.

SABRI BOUKADOUM ( Algeria) said that efforts to protect children in armed conflicts was not only an obligation under international law, but also a moral duty. Their place was in school and those institutions should be protected. The issue was of paramount importance, and although some legal instruments and resolutions addressed it, more needed to be done, he said, pointing out that more than 300,000 children had been forcibly enlisted as soldiers. The Council should make its message an action and as clear as possible. The world should know that the body would take action against those violating the laws protecting children, regardless of their status as a State or a non-State actor. In addition, the Secretary-General's report should come with specific recommendation and the Council should be proactive. Sanctions could not be a hypothetical option. He commended Chad for setting an example for Africa and beyond. "We owe it to children that they hold pencils and paper in safe schools, not weapons," he stated.

BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET ( Belgium), associating herself with the European Union Delegation, said it was deplorable that armed conflicts continued to affect children in disproportional numbers. She congratulated, among others, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Presidential Adviser on Sexual Violence. Nevertheless, recruitment of children continued in the country and needed to be addressed. She called upon the Government to fully implement its action plan and bring to trial those responsible for gender-based violence. States that had not done so should ratify all relevant conventions on the matter, including those on cluster ammunition and landmines. More so, armed forces listed in the Secretary-General's report should not be allowed to contribute troops to peacekeeping missions, and regional organizations should ensure that the protection of children be included in their own guidelines, trainings and conduct of peacekeeping operations.

ASOKE MUKERJI ( India) noted a reference in the Secretary-General’s report on the impact of left-wing extremist armed groups on children in his country. The Government was addressing that issue as a priority and was committed to redressing the situation through a combination of law and robust policy initiatives. In regards to the “interface” between the United Nations and non-State actors, he pointed out that non-State actors were not bound by any legal obligation or commitments, leaving such interface open-ended. A strict application of the rule of law as a deterrence to armed non-State groups would be more effective, especially when investigating and prosecuting those inveigling children into armed conflict or violating their fundamental human rights. He pointed out that only countries from the developing world had been listed in the relevant section of the report. The matter at hand was not only confined to the developing world, but it also occurred in developed countries.

YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA ( Japan) said that of the 276 girls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria, 223 of them were still missing. It was necessary to prevent similar crimes from taking place and no efforts should be spared in supporting the victims. In that regard, his Government had contributed financial resources towards psychosocial support and health care for the victims and their community in Nigeria. The incident symbolized the vulnerable conditions of children in armed conflict. It was not the first time nor did it only occur in Nigeria. The Council should consider the best way to prevent and eliminate child abductions in armed conflicts. In regards to cases of peacekeepers violating the rights of children he stressed that peacekeeping operations should be a model in safeguarding children. It was important for troop contributing countries to train personnel at home, so that they did not abuse children in the course of their duties, but protect them.

ÁLVARO DE MENONÇA E MOURA (Portugal), supporting the Children Not Soldiers campaign, as well as action plans to release youth from armed groups, urged greater efforts to gain compliance with those plans. As the overall situation of children had deteriorated in a group of countries, he stressed that perpetrators of all violations must be listed in the Secretary-General's report, saying that this normative framework was a critical tool to end the abuses. He supported guidelines for protecting educational facilities from attack and militarization. In regard to persistent violators of children's rights, including non-State actors, he said that impunity must be ended to protect the credibility of international efforts. Finally, he stressed peacekeeping contingents must have high standards against any abuse of children.

BOGUSLAW WINID (Poland), describing the worsening situation for children in some conflict situations and welcoming initiatives to redress it, noted that his country was the main initiator of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was of utmost importance that all countries sign, ratify and effectively implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention and that violators of its provisions face international accountability mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court.

GUILLERMO E. RISHCHYNSKI ( Canada), calling for additional steps to protect children against abuses, cited that systematic imposition of sanctions and targeted measures against violators was one example. Persistent perpetrators needed to come under continual pressure. Having observed Boko Haram, it was necessary to add abduction to the list of triggers for listing violators. Targeting schools or using them as military facilities deprived children access to education and put their lives at risk. Canada was co-sponsor of resolution 2143 (2014) that called for greater protection of children and more effective pre-deployment training for peacekeepers in child protection was needed. It was also important to screen such individuals to ensure they had never committed crimes against children. Both formal and informal systems for protection were needed. Civic registration and data collection were examples of formal measures while informal systems included active participation by families, communities and children themselves in creating and fostering good environments. Canada had contributed $27 million to child protection initiatives, $10 million to UNICEF and $50 million to the No Lost Generation initiative in Syria.

DESRA PERCAYA ( Indonesia), speaking on behalf of OIC, described Islam's prescription of protection of children and the rights the religion granted those young people. He was appalled at the consequences borne by children when armed conflicts broke out. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation opposed violence and perpetrators of hostilities against children had to be held accountable. Peaceful resolution of disputes was vital to eradicating violence against children and his organization would be guided by its Charter in strengthening its partnership with the United Nations in response to conflicts. The organization established a "Peace, Security and Mediation Unit" in 2013 and was committed to its Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission. The Council was vital to ensuring State compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law and Palestinian children continued to suffer from military occupation. Robust international attention was needed to deal with that and the global community was currently failing to protect civilians in armed conflict.

OMAR HILALE ( Morocco) said children were dual victims, suffering violence, but also recruitment as child soldiers. The debate would help improve the existing toolbox for protecting children. He welcomed efforts made by States under the Children, Not Soldiers initiative, hoping it would attain its objective of stopping the recruitment of children by 2016. The international community's efforts had fallen short and galvanization was needed. Security Council resolutions and the Paris Principles had not attained what they set out to do, and a multi-faceted approach was needed. It needed to be comprehensive and strategic, stressing prevention, democracy and good governance. National strategies depended on the availability of resources to Governments, so he called for a response to the Secretary-General's appeal for help. The international community needed to coordinate in launching reprisals against groups like ISIL and Boko Haram in order to achieve the best results.

GONZALO KONCKE ( Uruguay) said last time the debate was held, she expressed her disgust at violations of the rights of children. They were targets of killing, sexual violence and recruitment, while schools were being targeted and used as military locations. The debate's subject was also on the agenda of the General Assembly, but she underscored the role played by the Council, adopting resolutions to end recruitment and violence against children. Thanks to plans of action, thousands had been freed from exploitation. Violations against children had to end and respect for the Geneva Convention was essential and the International Criminal Court had to be employed in the fight against impunity.

Mr. ANJO ( Iraq) said that his country was facing great threats to its stability, which hindered its political transition, as well as the security of its people. He agreed with the Secretary-General’s report that terrorism had taken a greater toll on civilians last year. However, he disagreed with the paragraphs on Iraq's armed forces, which he maintained, could not be accurate because it was illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to serve in those forces. His Government was protecting children from terrorism through strengthening its criminal code and by working with international partners to increase security in his country.

MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), associating herself with the European Union Delegation, said that to counter the grave violations against children described in the Secretary-General's report, Member States had the primary responsibility and must uphold existing international standards. Those States must place their obligations into practice through national legislative systems. The Security Council had an important role in building child protection measures into peacekeeping mandates; all Member States must work to assure that peacekeepers upheld the highest standards and that child protection was integrated into post-conflict recovery and reconstruction, with particular attention to refugee and displaced children.

ROMAN OYARZUN (Spain), noting that his country had provided support to the Children Not Soldiers initiative and other child protection efforts, stressed that in the effort to end child recruitment, it was crucial to engage non-State armed groups. For all child protection, mainstreaming of the issue in peacekeeping was needed and cooperation with regional organizations was important. Noting the worsening situation in many countries, he urged all parties to conflict to comply with Council resolutions. The fight against impunity was key. He emphasized that it was the States themselves that had the primary obligation to protect children from harm and prosecute violators.

ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan), associating himself with OIC, said that children had suffered immeasurably during 30 years of war in his country. Resurgent conflict and pernicious extremism continued to cause them tremendous suffering. They were killed and wounded in attacks and were exploited by terrorists as combatants, suicide attackers and even as sex slaves. Schools were in danger and girls and teachers threatened with acid attacks, murder and abduction. In 2013, there were 73 attacks on schools, with dozens of children injured. Afghanistan launched the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict in 2010 and in 2011 the Committee developed a national action plan to end and prevent the recruitment of children in the Afghan National Security Forces. Child Protection Units were established within the Afghan national and local police recruitment centres, with many boys rejected from voluntary enlistment. Age verification had been pioneered in Herat and the good practice was to be extended throughout the country.

JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said the report was "solemn and disturbing reading". That should be alarming to every Member State. Concerns remained over persistent perpetrators and the report needed to detail how long each persistent perpetrator had been on the list. He acknowledged the progress made by Governments and non-State actors in progressing their action plans to end recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. More work was needed to strengthen partnerships between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations and action against violations had to start at the national level. The United Nations had to help to foster a culture deploring direct involvement of children in conflict. All United Nations peacekeepers needed mandatory child protection training, while intentional targeting or military use of schools was to be condemned. New Zealand's Defence Forces operated under a structured framework around the use of schools and he endorsed the Lucens Guidelines.

MPHO MOGOBE (Botswana), stressing commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Children, said that her country had and would continue to prioritize education, which was fundamental in the promotion and protection of the rights of children. Having achieved universal access, the next step was to ensure its quality. Other programmes including access to health-care services and child health interventions also sought to safeguard the rights of children. Significant challenges remained, mainly due to resource and capacity constraints. The report illustrated the negative and disproportionate impact of armed conflict on children and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General had reiterated her intention to work towards child-free Government armed forces by the end of 2016. She was pleased the Council adopted resolution 2143 (2014) and believed the international community could work together against grave violations against children.

U KAW TIN ( Myanmar) expressed concern over the growing number of children affected by armed conflicts in many parts of the world. With regard to the assessment on the situation in Myanmar, there needed to be greater accuracy and balance, as it mainly focused on reported isolated incidents of violations by individuals. The assessment was also outdated, as the situation in the country today was different. The Government had taken bold steps to address the issue of child soldiers through the development of a plan of action to end and protect the use of underage children in the military since 2012. Among concrete actions included in the plan was the establishment of a complaint mechanism, a public awareness raising campaign and greater media freedom. The Myanmar Government Army was fully committed to preventing underage recruitment and indicated its firm determination to finalize the full implementation of the plan.

AWALE ALI KULLANE ( Somalia) thanked the United Nations for its assistance to his Government to end recruitment of children in his country and hoped that it would be the next to be delisted. He pledged continued commitment to complete the action plan signed in March 2014, noting that the effort was mainstreamed throughout his country’s security sector and adding that screening had shown no new recruitment. Somalia was trying to heal from its protracted civil war and learn from its mistakes by overcoming them.

OLEKSANDR PAULICHENKO ( Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union Delegation, affirmed the priority of protecting children in armed conflict. Unfortunately, it had become an issue in his country with the onset of a conflict that he said was provoked by the Russian Federation, with abduction of children from orphanages and medical facilities. Children were also being killed and wounded due to the actions of armed groups in the east of Ukraine. He enumerated measures Ukraine had taken to avoid child injuries during his country's military operations, as well as to provide education and other services for affected children. He commended the United Nations for its assistance in that context.

IVANA PAJEVIC ( Montenegro), sharing the concerns expressed in the Secretary-General's report, emphasized the importance of achieving the objectives of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign and the need to assist those young people to reintegrate into civilian life. Schools, she stressed, needed to be free of attacks and military use. She welcomed recent guidelines towards that end. She called for strong child protection elements to be integrated into peacekeeping mandates, the institution of a ban on explosive weapons that remained after a conflict, an end to impunity through referral to the International Criminal Court and other strategies to better protect children.

MOHAMED IBRAHIM EL-BAHI ( Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, pointed out his country’s ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two protocols. Two International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions had also been ratified. He supported the campaign launched by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children in Armed Conflict. National laws prevented recruitment of minors to the police and armed forces and a unit for the protection of children had been established within the army, and another within the Ministry of the Interior. The Government had also called for investigations into abuse of children in Darfur, as well as in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile region. His country was cooperating closely with the United Nations to address concerns related to children, and UNICEF had recently made a successful visit to Sudan. Efforts continued to promote the rights of young people, including through the National Council for Children which had held seminars to boost protection. Thanks to the policies he outlined, he called for the removal of Sudan from the Annex to the report.

IGNACE GATA MAVITA WA LUFUTA ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) observed that ongoing wars in his State were responsible for the country’s child soldiers. The Government had tackled the issue within its own armed forces, better managing the details of recruits through biometric data. He supported the United Nations Children Not Soldiers campaign, noting that its goals were already being implemented by the Government. Efforts to improve monitoring of recruits’ ages were backed by international partners including the United Nations. An Action Plan was in place that criminalized the use of children in armed forces and combated sexual violence. Since signing that document, laudable progress had been made. Two directives were published, one ensuring that commanders gave the United Nations access and ensured punishment for violations against children, and the other freeing those under age youth associated with armed groups and ensuring they were taken under the wing of child protection agencies. Tribunals had been established specifically for child protection and any abuse disqualified applicants to the armed forces.

KHALED MAHFOODH ABDULLAH BAHAH (Yemen), associating himself the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that his country was engaged in national dialogue, part of the aim of which was to prevent the involvement of minors in the armed forces. It was important that children involved with armed groups were viewed as victims rather than culprits. Yemen had made great strides with parties involved in negotiations. A law on the police force provided a minimum age of 18 for recruitment. Ms. Zerrougui had met with several Government representatives and a joint coordination committee had been established in Yemen. The Council of Ministers approved the plan of work to prevent recruitment and mobilization of minors. Yemen was cooperating to prevent recruitment of children and to ensure demobilization of all those involved.

IRENE SUSAN BARREIRO NATIVIDAD ( Philippines) said a comprehensive agreement on the Bagsamoro had been signed between the Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Commitment to the peace process meant it was vital to ensure achievements were built on by delisting organizations. The President had also signed an executive order providing establishment of the Monitoring, Reporting and Response System for Grave Child Rights Violations. Due recognition needed to be given to such positive developments and needed to be appreciated within the larger context of inclusive and sustainable growth and the country's peace and sustainable development agenda. She stressed the importance of basing reports on clear, accurate, current and verifiable data. It was vital to address gaps in reporting processes and to continually improve the process. Listing and delisting criteria also needed to be clear, transparent, objective and balanced, and the Security Council may wish to consider how a stronger focus on the workings of delisting could work. She added a call for keeping the issue of persistent perpetrators in line with the mandate of the Security Council and the Working Group and said current monitoring efforts needed to conform to resolution 1612 (2005). She stressed that the situation in the Philippines should not be included or even mentioned in the Secretary-General's report.

PAUL SEGER ( Switzerland) welcomed recent initiatives to better protect children, noting at the same time that the situation had worsened in many conflicts and the scope of violations in Iraq in past weeks had reached unprecedented levels. Non-State actors must be engaged to end such abuses and accountability must be strengthened for persistent and grave violators of children's rights. The Security Council should strengthen provisions for the protection of children in all relevant mission mandates and better train peacekeepers for that purpose. The donor community could play an important role by addressing funding gaps as his country had recently done and all Member States who had not done so were encouraged to ratify the Optional Protocol of the convention on children's rights.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) also welcomed recent efforts to protect children and free them from armed groups while noting continued grave violations against them. He urged greater engagement of non-State groups and protection of schools from attacks and military uses. To end impunity, the Security Council should make more frequent use of its power to refer situations to the International Criminal Court. In addition, he said that peace processes should include the perspective of children at the earliest possible stage and their needs should be integrated into all decisions of the Council and other relevant United Nations entities.

The representative of the Russian Federation, taking the floor for a second time, said that Ukraine’s delegate would use any forum to share trumped up accusations. The claims made were no more than an attempt to blame the work of radicals in the Ukrainian army on others. Ukrainians were responsible for the suffering of children in Donetsk and Lugansk because of massive artillery and rocket fire on civilian targets there. It was a pity the Government could not realize that. He asked that Ukraine not engage in politicking, but rather in efforts to resolve the crisis.

The representative of Turkey, taking the floor for a second time, expressed astonishment over accusations made by Syria’s representative that Turkey was involved in organ trafficking. The organs mentioned belonged to children killed by the Syrian Government. Furthermore, many thousands of Syrians had been saved, thanks to crossing the border into Turkey.

The representative of Syria, responding to that statement, as well as one made by the representative of Qatar, said that the suggestion of Qatar being the protector of the Syrian people’s liberties disregarded the role that country had played in supporting jihadist extremist groups. Qatar’s representative had spoken of dead children but they were dead because of the hypocritical support her country had given to terror groups. The Syrian people would never forget the crimes perpetrated by the sheikhs with their petrodollars. Turning to Turkey’s delegate, she said she wondered about the surprise expressed over the fate of children in Syria when Turkey was supporting terror groups that attacked civilians.

World: Global emergency overview Snapshot 3–9 September

9 September 2014 - 10:37am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

Libya: Concern is growing for the increasing number of people affected by crisis since mid-July, as violence persists, rival governments are failing to assure basic services, and most humanitarian organisations have withdrawn.

Ethiopia and Sudan: Outbreaks of hepatitis E have been reported in IDP camps in South Darfur and among South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia. At Kalma camp in Sudan, 150 people are thought to have died, and 500 more to have been infected over the past two months. 354 cases of jaundice and hepatitis E have been recorded at Leitchuor camp in Ethiopia since late May.

Iraq: The UN planning figures estimate 1.8 million displaced since January, 850,000 of whom are in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Shelter is a major challenges and resources are insufficient for adequate construction of the camps that have been planned. Parliament approved a new Government, while Iraqi security forces launched operations around Haditha city, and Peshmerga forces attacked Islamic State positions northeast of Mosul.

Updated: 09/09/2014. Next update: 16/09/2014

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: Myanmar axes by-elections in 35 parliamentary seats‎

9 September 2014 - 1:45am
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Myanmar

09/07/2014 10:25 GMT

YANGON, September 7, 2014 (AFP) - Myanmar's election commission on Sunday scrapped November by-elections in 35 parliamentary seats, citing the pressure of hosting an upcoming regional summit and extra costs ahead of a nationwide poll in 2015.

The Union Election Commission made the surprise announcement after a meeting with more than 30 political parties in Yangon.

Explaining the decision, deputy director of the commission Hla Maung Cho said the number of lawmakers who would have been returned to parliament in the by-elections "will not make a big difference" to voting.

He cited Myanmar's chairing of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in November and high cost of contesting polls for smaller political parties who are also planning their campaigns for the nationwide vote slated for November next year.

The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) secured a landslide victory in by-elections in April 2012, sending party leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament as the nation pressed forward with democratic reforms after decades of military rule.

Suu Kyi's party is widely tipped to sweep full polls in 2015, if they are free and fair.

An NLD spokesman welcomed the cancellation of the by-elections.

"They were pretty rushed," Nyan Win of Suu Kyi's party told AFP.

"Now, we can prepare better for general election."

Suu Kyi is trying to change key sections of Myanmar's constitution that could open the way for further tweaks to the charter, including the ring-fenced proportion of soldiers in parliament and the effective bar on Suu Kyi leading the country.

As it stands, she is ineligible because of a clause in the 2008 charter blocking anyone whose spouse or children are overseas citizens from leading the country. Suu Kyi's two sons are British.

To alter the constitution a majority of more than 75 percent of parliament is required.

Unelected soldiers make up a quarter of the legislature and therefore have the last say on any changes.

Parliament is due to resume after a break on Thursday, with a controversial debate on adopting a proportional representation voting system likely to be on the agenda during the new session.

Backers of a proportional system say it will give minority parties in the ethnically diverse country a greater stake in decision making.

But critics say it is an attempt to prevent an NLD landslide in 2015.


© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: KWAT 7 Years Activity Report (2007-2013)

9 September 2014 - 1:01am
Source: Kachin Women's Association Thailand Country: Myanmar preview

KWAT team is happy to share our 7 years activity report (2007-2013) with you all.

This report is a comprehensive compilation of KWAT's goals, accomplishments, activities, and roles within society from 2007-2013. Since its formation in 1999, KWAT has been active in Thailand, Kachin State, and in Northern Shan State in Burma for the past 15 years.

We hope you will gain a better understanding of the conflict in Kachin State and become more familiar with KWAT's work by having a look at this report. In the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma, we believe that empowerment, education, and advocacy can truly advance a society.

Myanmar: Burma (Myanmar) Disaster Management Reference Handbook (2014)

9 September 2014 - 12:33am
Source: Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Country: Myanmar preview

Executive Summary

This country book focusing on Burma is intended to be a reference for individuals deploying to conduct disaster preparedness engagements or disaster response operations in Burma, but it is not meant to be a checklist or manual for all disaster response operations.

The research team conducted extensive research and analysis on existing Burmese plans, policies, and capabilities related to disaster management and risk reduction. The team also reached out to United States Government (USG) stakeholders and open source research to compile this book.

Burma is exposed to natural disasters such as flooding, drought, earthquakes, cyclones, and infectious disease epidemics. Burma ranks as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and the incidence and impacts of natural disasters are expected to increase in coming years. Additionally, Burma has been affected by ongoing conflicts for the past 40 years, which have resulted in large-scale population displacements and accompanying humanitarian crises.

Burma has made significant progress in its disaster management policies, plans, and procedures since 2008, when Cyclone Nargis hit the country with devastating impacts.

The government of Burma has modified the government structure and created new authorities and plans to improve the effectiveness of disaster management at all levels. While this progress is encouraging and shows the determination of the government to make necessary adjustments, the resources to implement the policy changes have been slower to develop. As a result, roles and responsibilities have been designated for official bodies that cannot carry out those duties.

Burma has undertaken efforts to democratize the government and improve socio-economic development since holding free elections. The progress that has been made in the political sphere in such a short time has been impressive and the political reforms have led to an influx of foreign development and investment funds.

Indicators give reason for optimism, but the optimism must be tempered by the reality that the process of modernizing the country after decades of isolation will be slow and advances in one sector will be dependent on improvements in another.

The country of Burma still faces development challenges as most of the population depends on agriculture for employment and subsistence living. The quality and availability of infrastructure, utilities, and services drop off outside of urban areas. As trade and business opportunities increase in cities, the urbanization trend of recent years will continue and possibly grow, meaning that Burma will have to learn to adapt to the demands of different socio-economic classes, an increasingly educated populace, and changing livelihoods landscapes. The conditions of growing from a least-developed country with ongoing conflicts and humanitarian issues will pose challenges that make development gains vulnerable to disaster and humanitarian hazards.

World: Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (A/69/212)

8 September 2014 - 4:21pm
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, World, Yemen, South Sudan preview

The present report is submitted to the General Assembly pursuant to its resolution 68/147 on the rights of the child, in which it requested the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to submit a report to the Assembly on the activities undertaken in discharging her mandate and on the progress achieved in advancing the children and armed conflict agenda.

The report covers the period from August 2013 to July 2014. It describes trends, selected issues of concern and progress made over the past year at both the policy and operational levels, including the mainstreaming of child protection issues within the United Nations system.

The report also provides information on field visits of the Special Representative, on her engagement with regional organizations and international partners and on dialogue with parties to conflict. It outlines a number of challenges and priorities in her agenda and concludes with a set of recommendations to enhance the protection of children affected by conflict

Myanmar: Bringing smiles to children in a Myanmar IDP camps

8 September 2014 - 3:54pm
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid department Country: Myanmar

It was wonderful to see smiles of the primary school students, as they received the EU and Finn Church Aid (FCA) education kits on a sunny day. In the internally displaced persons (IDP) camp of Set Yoe Kya (nearby the Buddhist camps of Sittwe), Western Myanmar, smiles are rare.

It wasn’t an easy job for the teachers to control the excited parents. Parents were anxious for their children waiting among the queuing students for their teachers to call out their names in order to receive their kits.

“I am so tired and I have even lost my voice; however, I am so glad for my students receiving the kits. As IDP students they have to attend classes in a small school, share small spaces and they don’t have enough facilities with peers”, says Than Than Shwe, a 47-year-old teacher from Set Yoe Kya school.

But on the 24th of June, the children were all smiles and looked curious about the kind of items which were inside the enclosed bags, delivered to them by the teachers and staff of Lutheran World Federation (LWF). As the children received their kits, they looked for their family members to come and help carry the heavy kits. Especially 1st grade students’ family members were ready and waiting outside of the school.

Education kit: rubber slippers and a rain coat

Each student received one bag, which includes pencils and erasers, a ruler, a pencil case, a school bag, a lunch box, a water container, a sharpener, rubber slippers, a raincoat and several exercise books, which were funded by the EU Children of Peace Initiative (CoPI).

“The kits are very useful for students, as they include school utensils for the primary students and other necessary equipment. For example, some of the students come to school without slippers. Honestly, they don’t have good slippers to wear during the rainy season as parents cannot afford to buy nice ones. But now, at least, parents don’t need to worry any more about the slippers”, says mother Khine Khine Nwae.

In IDP camps small gestures such as these often have great psychological significance.

“I am sure I will see my students filled with happiness and satisfaction using the items in class. They themselves are very proud of owning these kinds of kits. Moreover, these items support IDP students both physically and mentally. They will build up their self-esteem and they will be more interested in attending school in order to use all the items”, Than Than Shwe says with a smile.

Students from the first to fifth grades of Set Yoe Kya No.1 Primary School received 289 kits. Children of nearby schools, as well as one of the Buddhist camps of Sittwe Township received an additional 39 kits. During the academic year, some 1345 additional IDP students have received the CoPI education kit.

“I will write until there are no more blank pages left in the exercise books”

“No one will feel unhappy when they have received their kits. I will write until there are no more blank pages left in the exercise books and try very hard to be an outstanding student in class”, Soe Moe Nwae, 6, says.

In the end, some of the children had to carry the heavy items by themselves. In IDP camps, parents don’t always have the time for anything else than taking care of their livelihood and daily jobs, often in the town centre. These include construction site labour, carrying bags, stones, firewood, or work as tri-cycle drivers. But at least today all the children, teachers and parents left with big smiles on their faces.

Myanmar: Floods sweep Shan border town

8 September 2014 - 3:17pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar

As many as four thousand people in Tachilek, eastern Shan State, were forced to flee to higher ground as heavy rain pounded the town over the weekend.The water has since subsided, leaving the streets of the town caked with mud and strewn with debris.

800 houses were submerged in water, destroying personal property and business assets. A local monastery doubled as a refugee camp over the weekend, before people began returning to their homes on Monday.

One local resident told DVB that her material possessions are now ruined.

“We just picked up our important documents and fled,” she explained. “So many of our possessions were swept away by the water. All the rest is completely sodden and destroyed. This is really awful for everyone here.”

On Monday, Tachilek police confirmed that no one is missing, quashing a rumour that a mother and her young child had been swept away.

Locals say the flood-swept roads did not allow for people to take many belongings as they fled the town for higher ground.

“The road out of town is nearly impassable, said one local man. “We weren’t able to take anything with us as we escaped. We need help from the local authorities to clear the road and shore up the burst river. I’m demanding that on behalf of the local people.”

A local parliamentary representative for Burma’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, Tun Tun Win, said that people would have to wait to assess the full scale of the damage.

“Heavy rain poured down all weekend. Five neighbourhoods were three to four feet deep in water. The good news is that it hasn’t been life-threatening. However, we can’t yet ascertain what has been lost or damaged. We’ll know more once waters have completely receded.”

Tachilek sits on Burma’s border with Thailand.

Myanmar: ‘We Will Create an All-Inclusive Education System’

8 September 2014 - 2:40pm
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar


In late July, the Union Parliament approved the National Education Bill and the legislation, which is still awaiting approval by the president, is meant to overhaul Burma’s derelict education system. Under previous military governments, the system suffered from neglect, underfunding and outdated teaching methods.

The new bill includes a range of reforms for all education levels, but has come in for criticism from independent organizations, who said it continues unnecessary central government controls on education.

In the basic education sector, the bill strives to ensure enrollment of every school-age child, provision of free schooling and the use of student-centered teaching methods.

San San Yi, director of the Ministry of Education’s No. 3 Basic Education Department, spoke with The Irrawaddy about how the new legislation would change basic education in Burma.

Question: What changes do you think the National Education Bill will bring to the basic education sector?

Answer: The bill will provide equal opportunities to all school-age children to pursue basic education and it paves the way for free, compulsory basic education and [free education at] higher levels. As it is intended to provide each and every school-age child with schooling, we will create an all-inclusive education system so that children with disabilities can also pursue education.

We will try with all our means to bring about quality education. We are also planning to introduce ethnic minority languages into curriculums and will allow local governments the powers to arrange the teaching of local ethnic languages in their respective areas.

Q: How will you ensure that every school-age child gets access to education?

A: The last week of May is designated as school-enrollment week to make sure each and every school-age child has access to schooling. During that week, teachers of the education department have to work together with ward, village and township authorities and NGOs to make sure that every school-age child is enrolled for schooling.

But no matter how hard we try, ensuring that every school-age child in the country goes to school will remain a difficult thing. Even now in the Yangon Region, not 100 percent of all school-age children go to school.

We will provide free informal education to children who can’t afford to go to school. But as informal education is supported for children starting from the age of 9, children aged between 5 and 9 would be left out.

Meanwhile, some children receive education from volunteers and at monastic schools. Some children with disabilities have difficulty in pursuing education in spite of their quest for knowledge. We are also trying to provide them with informal education.

However, informal education still can’t cover the entire nation. Even in Yangon Region, informal education still can’t be provided in all 43 townships. Currently, it is provided in only 13 townships.

Q: Will the Education Ministry provide free education at middle and high school levels as it does at primary level?

A: The ministry’s policy is to expand the scope [of support for students] level by level. It is likely that free education will be provided first at basic education, then at middle and high school levels.

Q: What are the difficulties in undertaking reforms in basic education sector? For example, is the budget sufficient? Some critics have said that the education budget is too small.

A: The education budget has increased significantly in the time of the current government so that many a school has been given a facelift. Unlike the past, study stipends and scholarships are awarded now because of the increased budget.

Q: Will the changes include revisions of curriculums?

A: We’ll only update the current curriculums and won’t completely change them. We’ll just add certain things to improve them.

Q: What is the student-teacher ratio in Rangoon Region? What plans are being carried out to balance the ratio?

A: In Yangon Region, the student-teacher ratio is 30 to 1 at primary schools, 32 to 1 at middle schools, and 29 to 1 at high schools, according to a recent survey. A ratio of 1 teacher to around 30 students is not too bad.

Teachers have also been trained to teach with a student-centered approach, not only in Rangoon but in the entire country.

Q: Is there international donor support for implementing the education system reforms?

UNICEF has been the largest contributor to Myanmar’s education sector. The World Bank and Australia have also started providing assistance to Myanmar.

Myanmar: Village near Bagan evacuated as Irrawaddy floods

6 September 2014 - 4:06pm
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar


A village near the ancient site of Bagan in central Burma has been evacuated due to flooding after the Irrawaddy River burst its banks.

Local authorities said that 1,066 people from 265 households were evacuated, along with 342 cows and five horses, from the village of Sae Lan in Nyaung-U district on 3 September.

“We began relocating villagers as soon as the river began overflowing,” said Nyaung-U administrator Tin Htoo Maung. “Some people insisted on staying to protect their homes. But after the water reached thigh level, we made sure that everyone was moved out.”

Sae Lan is an island on the Irrawaddy, located 35km downstream from Pakokku, and only a few miles north of the bend in the river where the ancient kingdom of Bagan [formerly Pagan] and its thousand-year-old Buddhist temples are situated.

Tin Htoo Maung said that the evacuated villagers have been given shelter in a monastery in nearby Taung Be, where local philanthropists have arrived to offer supplies.

“There is a government clinic at the monastery, and various groups and individuals have come forward with donations, including food,” said Ko Min Naing, a representative of a Bagan civil society group.

As of Friday, water levels had dropped below danger level, and hopes were high that the villagers could be sent home in the coming days.

Myanmar: Mud Volcano Eruption Damages Farmland in Kyaukphyu

6 September 2014 - 4:45am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar


RANGOON — A mud volcano eruption in western Burma’s Arakan State has damaged more than 200 acres of farmland in Kyaukphyu Township, according to locals.

The mud volcano near Yaukchaung Village began spewing mud on Aug. 31, immediately inundating 30 acres of surrounding farmland. The mud has since flowed into another 170 acres of land, mostly rice paddy, said Aung Saw Thein, a local of Kyaukphyu, which is on Ramree Island.

“We still don’t know the exact acreage of farmland affected by the volcano eruption,” said Aung Saw Thein.

“The farms of 16 farmers were directly flooded by mud. Then the mud flew into other farms with the rain. Rice plants were planted two months ago there [and were destroyed]. But there was no damage to humans and animals,” he said.

On both Ramree Island and the adjacent Manaung Island, mud volcanoes are common, according to geologist Soe Thura Tun, who conducted research there two years ago.

He said the mud volcanoes on the islands are different from those in other parts of Burma as they are shallower in depth and sometimes erupt in flames as they expel natural gas. Geological formations in the area suggest that mud volcanoes were once even more common there, he said.

“Volcano eruptions here do not cause serious damage, and only farmland is destroyed by these volcano eruptions,” said Soe Thura Tun.

“They erupt once every two or three years, but there is no regularity to their eruption. Some volcanoes have already gone extinct, according to our research.”

Arakan State government officials visited Yaukchaung Village on Thursday and said they would arrange for replanting of the damaged crops.

However, many more farms are being affected by the mud as continuing rain carries it farther afield, said resident Kyaw Win.

“Not only Yaukchaung Village was affected. Farms and pasture in Simaw and Kyettel villages were also damaged by muddy water,” he said.

“Muddy water is still flowing into farms and the paddy in all those farms will be dead. We have three other mud volcanoes in the south west of the village.”

Myanmar: Dengue fever grips 10,000 children in Burma every year

6 September 2014 - 4:39am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar


Burma’s Ministry of Health has announced that more than 10,000 children, aged between three and eight years, contract dengue every year.

The news release by the ministry came across as a warning against the rise of the disease that claimed the lives of over 60 children in 2013.

Earlier in August, an epidemic outbreak of dengue fever was reported across Rangoon

According to the World Health Organization , dengue is among the most neglected diseases in the tropics, and has both spread geographically and increased significantly.

The deputy director at the Ministry of Health said that the figure of 10,000 is an average aggregate of the past 4 years.

He noted the necessity of educating people regarding preventive measures to ensure that mosquito breeding grounds are eradicated from the vicinity of household areas, and that repellents were used to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Dr. Myint Oo from Rangoon pointed out the correlation between dengue fever and sanitation, pointing out that mosquitoes generally tend to breed in dark and muddy areas. “If infected mosquitoes bite children, they can spread dengue fever,” he said. “Therefore the disease is related to the sanitation of one’s surroundings.”

The ministry has requested people sanitise their surroundings, filter water, throw away stagnant water, and get tested if they suspect they might have dengue.

Dengue affects both children and adults, and is common in rural and urban landscapes. Some of the most common symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, severe headaches, swollen glands, nausea and vomiting, joint aches and skin rashes. The symptoms last between two and seven days and if not treated may lead to a severe form of dengue hemorrhagic fever.

It is the second most common mosquito-borne disease after malaria. WHO estimates that between 50 to 100 million people suffer from dengue fever every year.

Within the Asia-Pacific region, Burma, Thailand and Indonesia have the highest dengue infection rate.