By Yasmine Sherif
NEW YORK, Jun 5 2023 (IPS-Partners)
Children are not targets. Children are not soldiers. Children are not weapons. As we commemorate the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, we call on leaders everywhere to embrace the commitments outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Safe Schools Declaration to ensure girls and boys everywhere are able to reach their full potential without fear, without intimidation and without violence.
As the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is firmly committed to ensuring children everywhere are guaranteed their human rights.
Education is a game changer in protecting these innocent young lives from the grave violations associated with armed conflict, including recruitment and use of children in war, killing, sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.
In countries with high numbers of documented grave violations against children – such as Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Iraq, the State of Palestine, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Ukraine – education is the most powerful and most transformative tool in our global efforts to save lives and build towards a lasting peace.
On my recent mission to the border region between Chad and Sudan, I met with vulnerable and desperate children and women traveling alone through a bleak desert land with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Without the safety, protection and hope that quality education provides, these innocent girls and boys face incredible and unimaginable risks. Girls will be forced into child marriage and sexually abused, boys will be forcibly recruited as child soldiers. And the cycle of displacement, poverty, violence and human rights violations will continue.
We can do better. We must do better. As nations worldwide have committed through the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “Every child has the right to life. Governments must do all they can to ensure that children survive and develop to their full potential.”
Please join Education Cannot Wait, donors and partners across the UN system in ensuring all children – especially those caught in armed conflicts – are guaranteed their human rights.
ECW Executive Director Yasmine Sherif Statement on International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression