Regional Conference on Preventing Grave Child Violations in Armed Conflicts Kicks off

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Doha, May 28 (QNA) - The regional conference on preventing grave violations against children in armed conflicts kicked off virtually on Sunday, in coordination with the League of Arab States and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The State of Qatar hosts the event as president of the 42nd meeting of the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs.
Bringing together Their Excellencies Arab Ministers of Social Affairs, the conference will discuss the best regional practices on preventing grave violations against children in armed conflicts and highlight ways to boost regional cooperation.
Addressing the conference, HE Minister of Social Development and Family Maryam bint Ali bin Nasser Al Misnad said the conference aims to discuss our governments' views and ideas that help us crystalize a unified international and Arab position on the issue of preventing grave violations against children in armed conflicts.
Her Excellency added that the world is facing a complex and deep crisis that threatens the future of childhood amid the rising intensity of armed conflicts, and the absence of peaceful solutions to them, prompting those in charge of humanitarian and development work to harness further efforts and accelerate their coordination to limit the exacerbating humanitarian situation in countries suffering from the scourge of armed conflict, to impose peaceful dialogue and to define guarantees for the protection of children and human rights during conflicts.
Children remain the group most affected by the absence of clear mechanisms to protect them during wars and conflicts, specifically those from poverty-stricken spots, including refugees and displaced persons, as the groups that suffer the greatest share of gross violations and exploitation, Her Excellency said.
Her Excellency highlighted that the Middle East showed 79 percent of violations against children due to armed conflict, with 93,000 children having been recruited in armed conflicts and more than 25,000 children kidnapped by the armed men between 2005 and 2020. The same period also documented 14,000 cases of child rape or forced marriage at the hands of the parties to the conflict, Her Excellency highlighted.
This complex situation requires doubled efforts and cooperation among all countries of the world, including the Arab countries, to protect children from being exploited, especially in armed conflicts, Her Excellency said, warning that distorted childhood, poverty and ignorance make appropriate incubators for extremism, terrorism and urge to revenge.
Her Excellency added that childhood in areas of armed conflict generates major future psychological and physical disabilities that exhaust societies, and establish the inheritance of poverty and ignorance.
Her Excellency stressed that the State of Qatar is always ready to coordinate and cooperate with Arab countries and the world to support people suffering from armed conflicts, including the Sudanese people, and stop the deterioration of social and humanitarian conditions and end the crisis that threatens the future of childhood and the world.
The humanitarian and development aid requires innovative solutions and faster methods to finance relief and development efforts, and to support peace-making programs, Her Excellency said.

In similar statement, HE Arab League's Assistant Secretary General and head of social affairs sector Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh said the Arab League prioritizes the issue of preventing heinous violations against children in the armed conflict to achieve the best interest for children, adding that the Arab Childhood Committee periodically follows up on this issue.
Her Excellency indicated that such a committee is a regional mechanism at the Arab region's level comprising 22 Arab states to discuss high priority issues of childhood, as well as challenges facing the member states and submit its recommendations to the specialized ministerial councils to take decisions on them accordingly.
She underscored the Arab League's keenness to develop joint work mechanisms to curb the challenges facing children since they are among vulnerable segments affected by wars and economic and social crises, as well as providing full protection to them. She pointed to the steps taken by the Arab League in this respect in implementation of the recommendations of the18th meeting of the follow-up committee to stop violence against children which had issued recommendations in this regard.
Among the recommendations, she said, is to explore ways to support Palestinian children and reduce the consequences of violence being committed by the Israeli occupation forces, adding that the Palestinian children are facing major threats against their fundamental rights, in addition to grave violations, such as killing, arbitrary detention and forced displacement.
Ambassador Dr. Haifa Abu Ghazaleh stated that protecting Palestinian children is imperative and urgent, stressing that international community must studiously work to stop these violations and ensure their rights and safety, in addition to holding perpetrators of these violations responsible and accountable. She called for consensus among all governments, regional and international organizations and actors in various fields to protect children and ensure better life for them, stressing the importance of enacting national laws and legislations, including those upheld by the states under regional and international agreements and conventions as a fundamental step to ensure children's protection from violence.
Abu Ghazaleh hoped the meeting would come out with an action plan that can be used as basis for the protection of children in times of conflict and displacement, lauding the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Social Development and Family to organize this event, in addition to its keenness to have a successful event in the service of Arab children.
In her remarks, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba stressed the necessary need to overcome risks that threaten children in armed conflict zones. The meeting featured intervention by some of Their Excellencies, the Arab ministers concerned with social affairs and underscored their countries' efforts at the level of childhood's protection and called for the significance of joint action to overcome all challenges facing childhood, especially in conflict zones.
Assistant Undersecretary for Family Affairs at the MSDF HE Sheikha Sheikha bint Jassim Al-Thani presented a paper in which she pointed to the support provided by the State of Qatar to the international community's efforts in promoting and protecting children's rights and providing security, development and essential services to them in various fields, emphasizing that Qatar gives top priority and emphasis to the enforcement of all international laws, agreements, charters and conventions related to this field. She noted that such an interest was demonstrated in Qatar National Vision 2030 which seeks to achieve sustainable development as derived from the universal human development goals that aim to bolster family cohesion and well-being, as well as addressing challenges and negative phenomena.
She noted the efforts of the MSDF related to caring for family, outlining that the MSDF constantly endeavors to achieve social well-being and advance children's reality to ensure their protection and safety and enable them to receive their rights, and make sure that they are not exposed to any type of various violations in recognition of the importance of protecting their mental health considering the changes and conflicts facing the communities at different levels.
The paper addressed the challenges facing children in armed conflict zones and the subsequent serious physical, psychological and social damages, calling for laying out an Arab strategy to address impact of armed conflict on children's mental health, along with their psychological and social well-being in collaboration between the MSDF and the Ministry of Public Health.
A final statement is poised to be issued at the conclusion of the meeting that would crystalize its most important outcomes on the protection of children, as well as preventing serious violations against them in armed conflicts. (QNA)