Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, told the 24th session of Human Rights Council, that children are vulnerable to the use of all means of warfare and bear the brunt of today`s conflict.
Citing Syria as an example, Zerrougui said that since the start of the conflict, three million children have either sought refuge outside the war-torn country or become internally displaced, and since the last school year, nearly two millions have dropped out of school.
Syrian children are not alone, and the blocked access to education is far from being the only problem confronted by children in conflict-affected areas, as the special representative highlighted.
She elaborated that in all conflict situations, grave violations against children have continued unabated: apart from being deprived of the right to education, children are killed and maimed, fall victims to sexual violence, recruited and used by armed forces and groups, and even get arrested, detained and tortured for alleged association with parties to conflict.
"Parties to conflict must do more and can do more to minimize killing and maiming of children as a result of military operations, and international treaties banning cluster munitions and chemical weapons must be respected," Zerrougui appealed.
She called for greater focus to ensure children`s economic, social and cultural rights under protection in conflicts, and also for joint efforts to identify practical solutions to ensure that children have access to education and health care that respond to their specific needs and circumstances during conflict and displacement.
"If we fail to protect their rights, their schools and ultimately their future, we call into question our common and longstanding commitment to uphold human rights and international humanitarian law. We must do more to translate these commitments into action and to save children from the scourge of conflict," she stressed.