Seizing Opportunities to Better Protect Conflict-Affected Children is Critical as the World Responds to COVID-19

COVID, Conflict, Children

Seizing Opportunities to Better Protect Conflict-Affected Children is Critical as the World Responds to COVID-19
Annual Report of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to the General Assembly

New York, 25 August 2020- As the vulnerability of boys and girls living amidst hostilities continues and is further exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, processes such as ceasefires, peace processes and security sector reform must be seized as opportunities to strengthen mechanisms to protect children, emphasized the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, in her Annual Report to the General Assembly published this week.

The report covers the period from August 2019 to July 2020 and details high levels of grave violations against children, with the denial of humanitarian access, attacks on schools and hospitals, and sexual violence showing some of the most worrying trends; it also highlights the central role of peace operations and special political missions to support to child protection efforts.

“The level of grave violations reported is only the tip of the iceberg; the COVID-19 pandemic is adding to the despair of conflict-affected children. Staff may be unable to conduct monitoring and verification missions, children in detention are particularly vulnerable and reintegration programmes, as well as the delivery of services, are impacted. We must address these compounded challenges together and I urge Member States to continue to support the provision of services for children and the work of child protection actors now more than ever,” said Virginia Gamba.

The Special Representative also reiterated her call to all parties to respect the civilian nature of schools, health infrastructure and protected persons, as they increasingly become strategic assets in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; she further urged them to join the Secretary-General’s and Security Council’s global calls for ceasefires…