An official website of the United States government

U.S. Gravely Concerned About the Dire Situation of Children in Syria
September 10, 2013

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
As Delivered by Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe

Following the
Oral Presentation of the Special Representative
of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict

Geneva, September 10, 2013

The United States thanks Special Representative Zerrougi for her statement and for her excellent reporting and efforts during her first year to protect children from the devastating effects of armed conflict.  The United States is deeply committed to promoting protection of children from violence, exploitation, abuse, and the immense suffering caused by conflict.  We strongly support efforts that shed light on these issues at relevant multilateral fora.

– We welcome efforts by the Government of Yemen to protect children from the effects of war.  In particular, we laud the engagement of the interministerial committee responsible for developing an action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children in the armed forces.  We urge the Government of Yemen to sign an action plan with the United Nations by the end of this year.

– We are concerned by the situation in Myanmar, where there are still child soldiers within the ranks of government forces and armed groups. We strongly urge the Government of Myanmar to continue implementing the child soldier action plan they signed in June 2012, and to act on the other recommendations in the CAAC Working Group’s August Conclusions Document.

-The United States is gravely concerned about the disturbing information the Special Representative has presented, drawing on her recent visit to the region, regarding the dire situation of children in Syria, in particular the shelling and use of explosive weapons in populated areas.  We are horrified by the recent use of chemical weapons by the government, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of children.  The scale of trauma and death suffered by children affected by this conflict is heartbreaking.  We understand that all sides to the conflict have committed abuses against children, including the unlawful use of child soldiers, in contravention of Syria’s international legal obligations and despite a recently-passed domestic law forbidding recruitment of those under age 18.  The abuse of children in detention is cowardly and unacceptable. We also condemn attacks on protected schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access. That more than half of the estimated 1.7 million Syrian refugees are children is also unacceptable. All of these conditions pose a serious threat to Syria’s future.  Addressing these violations and abuses must be of the highest priority for the international community and particularly for the Syrian leadership.

Thank you.