Vienna, 12 February 2014 Press release

Kurz: "We must stop the suffering of children in armed conflicts!"

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on the occasion of the Red Hand Day

Vienna, 12 February 2014 – "It is a sad reality that children are still being employed as fighters, as helpers in armed groups or as human shields in many conflicts. The UN Secretary General's report about children and their suffering in the Syrian conflict as also the reports on the situation in the Central African Republic are a drastic reminder of the difficult situation of children who are victims of these conflicts. The experience of horror often leaves these children traumatised for life and can destroy the hopes and future of a whole generation", Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.  

"Children must under no circumstances be deployed in combat operations. I appeal to all parties involved in conflicts to make the protection of children their first priority. Forcing children to serve as child soldiers, however, is not the only way the fundamental rights of children are horrifically violated: The examples of Syria and the Central African Republic illustrate that children suffer the most from the withholding of humanitarian aid and attacks targeted at schools and hospitals; they fall victim to sexual violence and arbitrary arrest. Perpetrators do not even stop at torture and mutilation of children. The international community must not turn a blind eye to such atrocities committed against the weakest members of our societies", Kurz continued.  

"Austria will continue to apply itself to strengthening international monitoring mechanisms for children in armed conflicts. Austrian organisations have been pro-actively committed to this cause for many years; the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution in Stadtschlaining, for example, together with the United Nations organises training courses for UN missions and teaches them how to protect children. Efficient training is a prerequisite for observing the rights of children in UN peace-keeping operations, and thanks to the support of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, these training courses can also draw on Austrian expertise", Minister Kurz concluded. 

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