Envoy Sounds Alarm on Yemeni Children's Situation

Envoy Sounds Alarm on Yemeni Children's SituationEnvoy Sounds Alarm on Yemeni Children's Situation

The ambassador to the United Nations warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen, calling special attention to the "worrisome" worsening conditions of children in the war-ravaged country.

"The situation of children in Yemen is worrisome…. According to UNICEF reports, at least 279 of the killed and 402 of the wounded were children," Gholamali Khoshroo said.

"This marks an exponential and unacceptable jump compared to the entire year of 2014 and makes clear how the intensity of the conflict in Yemen can lead to humanitarian crises for some time to come."

Khoshroo made the remarks in a speech at an open debate of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict on Thursday.

"The systematic bombing and destruction of the logistical infrastructure of a country that imports 90 percent of its food, for example, will undoubtedly have long-term consequences," he warned, according to the website of the Islamic Republic of Iran Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

  Inadequate Efforts

The representative to the UN referred to inadequate efforts by the international community to protect the rights of children against extremist groups, saying, "The trend of violent extremists infringing upon the rights of children should be of particular concern for the international community."

"The nature of these groups and their form and structure mean that many standards and proven methods used by the international community to protect children from them may be considerably less effective if not futile."

Referring to the activities of some of the most notorious terrorist groups, Khoshroo said, "The complete disregard for civilians, including children, by Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and al Qaeda affiliates, especially in Syria and Iraq, has been particularly shocking and the proliferation of these tactics among such groups (is) worrying."

"The Boko Haram gangs have been ravaging parts of Nigeria and shrouding areas by mostly terrorizing children. Likewise, the targeting of the children of religious and ethnic minority groups is also a matter of grave concern."

The envoy then pointed to the war crimes committed by Israel in its 2014 attacks on Gaza and how children were particularly affected. "As the Secretary-General's report indicates and as evidenced in reports by UN agencies, only in Gaza, between 8 July and 26 August 2014, 540 Palestinian children were killed, 2955 injured among them 1000 estimated to be permanently disabled as a result of the latest Israeli invasion."

"The number of schools, kindergartens and hospitals damaged or completely destroyed by Israeli forces during the same period is the highest recorded number (in such conflicts) in 2014."

  Call for Accountability

He stressed that Israel should be held accountable for its crimes and called on the international community to take the required actions to ensure that justice is served for the Palestinian victims.

"We would like to take this opportunity to call for accountability for the war crimes and violations committed by Israel."

"The international community, including the Security Council, should ensure serious follow-up efforts to bring an end to Israel's impunity and to secure justice for the victims."

Khoshroo asked the sides involved in conflicts around the world to do more to protect the rights of children. "Warring parties must take greater strides to protect children from conflict."

"Respect by all parties for the civilian nature of schools, the inclusion of policies regarding the rights of children in peace talks and treaties and the regular institution of humanitarian pauses in the fighting can be significant steps towards achieving that aim," he recommended.

He underlined the role of the international community in this relation, saying, "The international community must redouble its effort to protect children in conflict by taking a more aggressive stance against those who are persistent perpetrators and those who abduct and victimize children."