Catholic World News

Assist child victims of armed conflict, Holy See diplomat emphasizes at UN

July 12, 2018

The Holy See attaches “critical importance” to the suffering of children in armed conflict, a leading Vatican diplomat told the UN Security Council on July 9.

The Security Council’s open debate on the issue followed the publication of the UN’s annual report on children and armed conflict.

“For the children already trapped in armed conflict, it is never too late to act to save and rehabilitate them,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. “How we treat those affected by armed conflict has consequences not only for their future but for that of the world. Giving up on them means abandoning their communities and their countries.”

Welcoming the international community’s “unique consensus” on this issue, Archbishop Auza offered three suggestions on how “we can do better in protecting the children who suffer the devastating consequences”:

  • “First, the grave responsibility to act in the face of attacks against children, such as reducing them to child soldiers, entrapping them in sexual slavery and subjecting them to mass abductions and other acts of violence against children.” The prelate called on the international community to “strengthen preventive measures against the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law that are occurring against children.”
  • “Second, the need to prioritize the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups. Children caught in armed conflict must always be treated primarily as victims, even if, under the control of armed groups, they may have factually committed crimes.”
  • “Third, the need to guarantee the right to education for children victimized by armed conflict ... In this regard and through its various structures operating in most of the conflict zones, the Holy See and the Catholic Church are actively engaged through educational and rehabilitation institutions in taking care of the many victims of violence, both girls and boys.”

“For the children who have fallen victims to armed conflicts and have survived, let us do everything possible to give them back their future,” the prelate concluded, “by helping them to realize their deepest aspirations and by enabling them to fulfill their dreams, whether as doctors, lawyers, teachers, social workers, parents or some other profession or role that contributes to the common good of every society, for the prevention of conflicts and the building of peaceful and sustainable communities.”

 


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