On the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, renewed their commitment to work together to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
“Hand in hand with Leila Zerrougui we are determined to keep our commitment to prevent child recruitment and not only to demobilise, but also to reintegrate former child soldiers”, said Federica Mogherini.
Every day, thousands of children are forced to participate in conflicts around the world. “The proliferation of crises over the past twelve months have put our response mechanisms to the test,” said Leila Zerrougui. “Our partnership with the European Union is essential to address the needs of children too often exposed to high levels of violence, and to consolidate progress to end the recruitment and use of children.”
EU funds are financing reintegration programmes for former child soldiers. More than 108,000 children have benefited from the EU Children of Peace initiative, a programme designed to provide education to children in emergencies. The EU strongly promotes accountability by strengthening national justice systems so that perpetrators of violations against children are held accountable. With EU support, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners are accompanying the release and reintegration of up to 3,000 child soldiers from an armed group in South Sudan.
The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, together with the UNICEF, launched the campaign “Children, not Soldiers” in March 2014 to end the recruitment and use of children by government forces in conflict by the end of 2016. “The Children, Not Soldiers campaign is already making a difference for thousands of children” said Federica Mogherini. “To this end, we stand ready to support governments who release all children from their national armed forces and provide for their education.”
The campaign already produced results: More than 400 children were released from Myanmar’s army, Chad completed all the requirements to make its army child-free and other countries involved in the campaign are moving forward to end and prevent the recruitment of children in their national security forces.
“There is still a lot of work ahead of us”, concluded Federica Mogherini and Leila Zerrougui, “but if we continue to share our resources and expertise, we can contribute to a safer future for children”.