Statement by Permanent Representative Anna Karin Eneström in the Arria Formula-meeting 'Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on violations against children in situations of armed conflict', 7 May 2021.
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Thank you for convening today’s Arria-formula meeting which Sweden is proud to be co-sponsoring. I would like to thank all the briefers for their invaluable, yet worrying, insights, and in particular SRSG Gamba for presenting the study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on violations against children in situations of armed conflict.
I would also like to express my gratitude to the Government of the United Kingdom for its support to the study.
Having served as chair of the Security Council’s working group on children in armed conflict in 2017-18, we are encouraged and grateful to see how the UN membership continues to push for the safety and protection of children in situations of armed conflict.
We have since we left the Council continued to fund and support child protection programs in countries all over the world, including in CAR, the DRC, Sudan, and Afghanistan, just to mention a few examples highlighted in the study presented today.
I want to briefly highlight two examples.
In February, Sweden jointly with Belgium, Canada, Norway and other partners co-hosted a meeting in Kinshasa, DRC, on children in armed conflict. Given the pandemic, great efforts were made to involve as many actors as possible through digital tools, not least from civil society. While to a large extent successful, it also illustrated how much-needed awareness-raising of these critical issues risks being severely hampered due to the pandemic.
In Afghanistan, Sweden co-chairs together with UNAMA the local Group of Friends on children in armed conflict. Our Embassy in Kabul was proud to co-host, with my dear friend Bob from Canada, the first joint meeting between this group and the Group of Friends in New York last year. It was a very useful way to share information and lessons learned. Given that the pandemic has restricted access to information on violations, we would encourage similar meetings be organized between New York and local Groups of Friends in more countries.
The clear negative effects of the pandemic on monitoring and reporting, and on the ability to work with parties to conflicts on developing and implementing commitments to end child rights violations, are very worrying.
It is therefore crucial that vaccination efforts in the countries on the CAAC agenda are intensified – Sweden has in this regard pledged 280 million US dollars as well as one million vaccine doses to the COVAX initiative. We truly hope that this will also facilitate a faster resumption of the efforts to prevent, monitor, report and respond to violations against children.
We warmly welcome the intention of the Office of the SRSG to do a follow-up to this study, given that the pandemic is still on-going, and in some cases worsening.
To conclude, I want to underline that we highly value the close cooperation with our partners, including civil society organizations, in our joint efforts to continue to protect children, despite the huge challenges stemming from the pandemic.