The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the second report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Yemen (document S/2019/453), agreed to convey the following messages through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group:
The Working Group agreed to address the following message to all parties to the armed conflict in Yemen, mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General, in particular non-State armed groups, such as Houthis, Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula/Ansar al-Sharia, pro-Government militias, including the Salafists and popular committees, and the Security Belt Forces, as well as the Government forces, including the Yemeni Armed Forces, and the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, through a public statement by its Chair:
• Expressing grave concern at the scale, severity and recurrence of violations and abuses endured by children in Yemen, strongly condemning all violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in Yemen, and urging them to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, abduction, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;
• Stressing the importance of accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict; and stressing that all those responsible must be brought to justice and held accountable without undue delay, including through timely and systematic investigations, and, as appropriate, prosecution and conviction;
• Expressing deep concern at the high number of children verified as recruited and used in violation of international law, of which the majority were recruited and used by the Houthis; strongly urging all armed forces and groups to immediately release all children associated with them and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children, consistent with their obligations under international law and, as applicable, the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the declaration made by Yemen upon accession thereto in 2007; expressing concern about the deprivation of liberty of children, both by State and non-State actors, for their alleged association with armed forces and armed groups and urging all parties to conflict to release those children and ensure their full re-integration through child protection programmes; urging that children allegedly associated with parties to conflict should be treated primarily as victims, and that detention should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, in line with international law as well as guided by the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (‘Paris Principles’) endorsed by the Government of Yemen in December 2012;
• Expressing deep concern at the alarmingly high number of children killed and maimed, including by airstrikes, ground fighting, including with small arms fire and shelling, which was prevalent in densely populated areas, mines and unexploded ordnance, and suicide attacks; and urging all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid and in any event minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects;
• Expressing strong concern at the high number of children killed and maimed by mines, unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war, and urging all parties to the armed conflict to take steps to prevent and reduce such killing and maiming, including by prioritizing the clearance of mines, unexploded ordnance and other explosives, as well as risk education and risk reduction activities;
• Expressing deep concern at the cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children and at the lack of appropriate services for survivors; expressing concern about the increase in early marriage of girls; strongly urging all parties to the armed conflict to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children; and stressing the importance of accountability for those responsible for sexual and gender-based violence against children;
• Strongly condemning the attacks on schools and hospitals in violation of international law; calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to comply with applicable international law and to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, and to end and prevent disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks or threats of attacks against those institutions and their personnel as such as well as the military use of schools and hospitals in violation of applicable international law; and in this regard noting the endorsement of the Safe School Declaration by the Government of Yemen in October 2017, and stressing the importance of accountability for attacks against those institutions in violation of international law;
• Strongly condemning the abduction of children, including for recruitment and use, and other forms of exploitation, as well as ransom; and calling upon all concerned parties to cease the abduction of children and immediately release all abducted children;
• Expressing grave concern at the humanitarian crisis in Yemen; strongly condemning the number of incidents of denial of humanitarian access to children, including denial of humanitarian assistance and attacks on humanitarian personnel, facilities and assets; and calling upon all parties to the armed conflict, in particular the Houthis, to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered access to children, consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, to respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and to respect the work of all United Nations humanitarian agencies, and their humanitarian partners, without adverse distinction;
• Calling upon all parties who have not yet done so to enhance their engagement with the United Nations to develop and adopt appropriate standard operating procedures for the release and reintegration of children associated with parties to conflict and grant immediate access to civilian child protection actors to facilitate their release and reintegration into their communities; and underlining that family and community-based reintegration of children formerly associated with parties to conflict is essential to provide a future to these children and their families, as well as prevent the risks of re-recruitment in violation of international law; noting in this regard efforts undertaken by the Government of Yemen and the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen to re-unite children formerly associated with armed groups with their families;
To the Government of Yemen:
• Welcoming the signing of a road map on 18 December 2018 to revitalize the implementation of the Action Plan signed by the Government of Yemen on 14 May 2014 to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by its forces; welcoming the command order issued by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Yemeni Armed Forces in March 2018 which recalls that the recruitment and use of children by Government forces was forbidden and which calls for immediate reporting of any violation of its provisions; welcoming moreover the endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration by the Government of Yemen in October 2017; urging the Government to proceed immediately with the implementation of its road map with the United Nations and to stop and prevent the recruitment and use of children, immediately release all those within its ranks, and prioritize the establishment of effective age assessment mechanisms; and calling upon it to further implement the previous conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen (S/AC.51/2013/3);
To the Coalition:
• Welcoming the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen on 25 March 2019 to strengthen the protection of children affected by the armed conflict in Yemen; welcoming the development of a programme of specific time-bound activities by the Coalition with the United Nations on the basis of this Memorandum of Understanding and calling upon it to implement it; calling on the Coalition to take all necessary actions to meet their obligations under international law; and calling upon Yemen and the Coalition to ensure that all incidents or allegations of incidents attributed to the Coalition are duly investigated, in line with international law, to ensure accountability;
To the Houthis:
• Expressing grave concern and strongly condemning all violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in Yemen by the Houthis; expressing disappointment at the Houthis’ failure to engage fully with the United Nations in Yemen on the protection of children affected by armed conflict; urging the Houthis to immediately take all necessary actions to meet their obligations under international law, to enhance their ongoing dialogue with the United Nations in Yemen as well as to develop and adopt an action plan to end and prevent the six grave violations against children; calling upon them to implement the previous conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen (S/AC.51/2013/3);
To the other listed parties:
• Calling upon all other parties to the conflict listed in the annexes of the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict to sign and implement an action plan with the United Nations to end and prevent the six grave violations against children, if they have not yet done so, and to this effect enter into a dialogue with the United Nations; calling upon them to implement the previous conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Yemen (S/AC.51/2013/3);
To all those concerned:
• Encouraging those who are or will be engaged in peace talks and agreements to ensure that child protection provisions, including those relating to the release and reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups, as well as provisions on the rights and well-being of children, are integrated, into all peace negotiations, ceasefire and peace agreements, and in provisions for ceasefire monitoring, and taking into account children’s views, where possible, in these processes;
• Calling upon Member States, United Nations entities, including the Peacebuilding Commission, and other parties concerned to ensure that the protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict are fully incorporated and prioritized in all post-conflict recovery and reconstruction planning, programs and strategies as well as in efforts on peacebuilding and sustaining peace and encourage and facilitate consideration of the views of children in these processes;
• Expressing concern at the security, access and other challenges faced by United Nations Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) personnel; and demanding parties to the conflict to facilitate their safe and unhindered access to territories for monitoring and reporting purposes and to halt immediately threats against MRM monitors and communities where allegations of violations and abuses are being reviewed;
To community and religious leaders:
• Emphasizing the important role of community and religious leaders in strengthening the protection of children affected by armed conflict;
• Urging them to strengthen community-level protection and to condemn publicly and continue to advocate ending and preventing violations and abuses against children, notably the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks and threats of attacks on schools and hospitals, abductions and denial of humanitarian access, and to engage with the Government, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders to support re-integration and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children.

Source: United Nations

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