LONDON: Saudi Arabia believes the need to protect children threatened by armed conflicts worldwide is a responsibility shared by all in the international community, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN said on Monday.
Abdallah Al-Mouallimi said his country has joined many international frameworks that aim to address this issue, as he called for concerted, collective efforts to confront its causes and repercussions.
Speaking during a virtual session of the UN Security Council, titled Children and Armed Conflict, the Saudi ambassador said: “Protecting children in armed conflicts is of paramount importance to the concept of peace building, and to creating balanced generations that can build a more stable and prosperous future for countries affected by conflicts.”
The international community must deal with children affected by armed conflict with great care, he added, in ways that can create a new reality for them in which the cycle of violence is broken, the negative effects on the young of wars are addressed, and steps can taken to prevent the creation of an environment that becomes an incubator for extremism or violence.
Al-Mouallimi said the Kingdom welcomes the recent report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on children and armed conflict, which affirmed the commitment of the Arab coalition in Yemen to protecting children and the important steps it is taking to enhance this protection in accordance with international references. The envoy added that the report reflects the fact that the efforts of the coalition to achieve this can serve as model for the protection of children by similar coalitions in other conflict zones.
“The results of the secretary-general’s report, despite reservations about the number of incidents attributed to the coalition, prove the invalidity of the malicious claims made by some parties in an attempt to distort the true image of the coalition for political purposes that have nothing to do with the protection of children, but aim only to use lies to create a virtual reality that diverts attention from the real and constructive role of the coalition in Yemen,” Al-Mouallimi said.
He reiterated the Kingdom’s support of the mandate for Virginia Gamba, the UN’s special representative for children and armed conflict, and her positive role in protecting children worldwide.
“We look forward to continued constructive cooperation between her and the coalition to develop mechanisms to protect children in the armed conflict in Yemen,” he added.
Al-Mouallimi also said the secretary-general’s report “once again demonstrated the destructive role of the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, as it proves, among much other evidence, this militia’s unwillingness to end the conflict, and its perpetration of horrific crimes against Yemenis and their children.”
The envoy added that the rejection by the Houthis of peace initiatives and the escalation of attacks against civilians, most recently in Marib, is evidence of their hostile ideology and ambitions for power with no regard for the effects their coup against the legitimate Yemeni government is having on the people of the country, the draining of national resources, or the chaos, hunger and disease it has caused among the population.
He said it also illustrates the negative role of Iran in the region as it seeks to impose its expansionist policies with no concern for the devastating consequences on the peoples of the countries in which it has intervened.
Al-Mouallimi called on the Security Council and the international community to take all necessary action to compel the Houthis to choose the path of peace in support of UN efforts to find a political solution that will spare the Yemeni people, and children in particular, more suffering.
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