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Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Briefing on Children and Armed Conflict

2024-04-03 18:00

Madam President, 

I thank Special Representative Virginia Gamba and Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban for their briefings. I have listen attentively to the statement by Ms. Atim Niger-Thomas. 

Children are the most innocent victims and most vulnerable groups in need of assistance in armed conflicts. Globally, 150 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Ensuring smooth humanitarian operations and safe and unhindered humanitarian access is a basis and prerequisite for safeguarding the rights of the interests of those children. China welcomes Malta’s initiative to convene today's meeting. We hope the international community and the Security Council will take concrete actions to remove humanitarian obstacles and build a solid protection barrier, so that every child in armed conflict can receive the maximum physical and psychological support and assistance and enjoy a peaceful and tranquil childhood. 

Madam President, 

Currently, children in Gaza are experiencing a catastrophe. According to UNICEF, in the past six months, over 13,000 children have been killed in Gaza, which is more than the total number of children killed in all regions of the world in the past four years. The children in Gaza have been devastated by the fighting. Some are hiding in overcrowded hospitals without access to medicines and care, suffering from malnutrition, illness, disability, and even death. Some have been forced to move from one place to another under fire, never to find a safe haven. Many more children wake up every day to the sound of rumbling artillery under the shadow of war, seeing no way out for peace and no hope for survival. The loss of one young life after another and the shattering of countless childhood dreams have repeatedly questioned the conscience of the international community. Such a situation should not continue. 

Protection of children in Gaza is a responsibility of the international community and consensus of the Security Council. After the outbreak of the new round of the conflict in Gaza, the first resolution adopted by the Security Council focused on the protection of children in Gaza. Last week, the Council adopted Resolution 2728 calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. It is imperative that the Council resolutions be fully and effectively implemented, a ceasefire be immediately realized, and all acts that harm civilians be halted, so that children in Gaza can see the dawn of peace at an earlier date. It is necessary to immediately lift the blockade of Gaza, so that humanitarian agencies such as UNRWA can carry out the relief work and deliver humanitarian supplies to the population of Gaza, especially to children in a safe and timely manner. The authority of international justice must be upheld. Grave violations of international laws and international humanitarian law must be fought back vigorously. And perpetrators of children's rights must be held accountable. Human dignity must not be dishonored and international justice must not be absent. 

Madam President, 

In addition to Gaza, children in many other conflicts areas also suffer a tragic fate. There are many acute issues that cry for our attention.  

Greater humanitarian assistance must be promoted. Countries such as Afghanistan are mired in humanitarian disasters with a large number of children facing difficulty in obtaining timely assistance and suffering from hunger and displacement, which is heartbreaking. Developed donor countries should focus on the survival needs of Afghan people and provide timely emergency humanitarian assistance, rather than using the reduction of humanitarian funds as a tool for pressure and allow Afghan children to become victims of politics. 

Unilateral sanctions must be lifted. In places such as Syria, prolonged unilateral coercive measures have exacerbated the humanitarian and economic crisis, leading to severe shortages of food, medicine, fuel, electricity, and other basic supplies. Many children suffering from illnesses are unable to receive timely treatment due to lack of medicine and care. We urge the countries concerned to immediately and unconditionally lift all illegal unilateral sanctions and ensure all humanitarian assistance operations can be carried out smoothly, so that suffering of the people can be eliminated. 

Grave violations must be put to an end. Security Council resolutions explicitly prohibit six grave violations, including killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, and attacks on schools. However, these red lines have been repeatedly breached. The recent deteriorating situation of Haiti and rampant gang violence pose a serious threat to the survival of tens of thousands of children. Curbing gang violence requires preventing the the illegal flow of arms and ammunition into Haiti. The Council should take concrete measures to ensure that arms embargo against Haiti can be put into practice. 

Comprehensive development should be promoted. In places like the Sahel, Somalia, and the DRC, a large number of children are being recruited by terrorists and armed groups. The root cause is poverty, unemployment, and livelihood. The international community should help the governments of the countries concerned take effective measures to eradicate hunger and poverty, provide universal access to education and health care for the realization of goals on sustainable development and the comprehensive development of children. 

Children are the future of mankind. In September this year, the UN will hold a Summit of the Future. We should take the Summit as an opportunity to push for a clearer blueprint, more pragmatic initiatives, and louder voice in the areas of children's rights for the benefit of our future generations and to help them realize common development, seek common security, and build a common future. 

Before I conclude, some delegates in their statement mentioned the strong earthquake in the Taiwan region in China. The Chinese mainland is paying close attention to the damage caused by the earthquake. We have already extended our sincere sympathy to our Taiwan compatriots affected and are ready to provide disaster relief. We thank the international community for their care and good wishes. 

Thank you, Madam President.


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