Ukraine welcomes the Open Debate of the Security Council on the issue of “Children and armed conflict”. These are not just trivial words for my country. This Council is well aware that Ukraine is suffering from the Russian aggression already for more than a year. Unfortunately we have to admit that children are among those who suffer most from the conflict.
In this regard I wish to reiterate Ukraine’s strong commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a fundamental international instrument in the area of protection of children. The Convention and its Optional Protocols constitute a core of the international system of enhancing and promoting children’s right to survive, live and grow in a healthy environment with their adequate access to education, health, nutrition, safety and security.
Russian Federation’s actions constitute a blatant violation of international law, including mentioned Convention. We urge Russia to cease its subversive activity causing immense suffering to the population, mostly women and children, in the areas of the eastern Ukraine controlled by illegal armed groups. Time and again we reiterate our appeal to the United Nations and this Council to give an adequate assessment and to take necessary measures in response to the Russian Federation’s actions in the temporarily occupied Crimea and in the East of Ukraine.
In this light I would like to recall the numerous facts of abductions of children by the Russia-sponsored terrorist groups in Eastern Ukraine, including from orphanages and medical facilities. Orphans are being illegally moved outside the country; children are getting killed and wounded as a result of the activities of the Russia-backed illegal armed groups in the East of Ukraine.
We all remember shocking images after the pro-Russian terrorists’ mass shelling of residential areas in Mariupol in January this year. As a result dozens of people were killed and more than a hundred wounded. Unfortunately children were also among the victims: 2 of them were killed, dozens wounded and became orphans. 4 schools and 3 kindergartens were damaged as a result of this blatant terrorist attack.
According to the UNICEF latest data, at least 64 children have been killed and 170 wounded in Eastern Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict masterminded by Russia. The number of IDPs in Ukraine increased in the last month to more than a million, with more than 60 % of them women and children.
The Government of Ukraine is making everything possible to ensure evacuation of children from the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions where they are at risk of militants’ shelling and other outrages. The legislation is being elaborated on strengthening social protection of children and families with children displaced from affected regions.
Ukraine reiterates its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of the child at the national and international levels. We reaffirm our support for and appreciate the work being carried out by UNICEF, Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict Leila Zerrougui.
We would like to stress the vital importance of the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” aimed to ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by national security forces by 2016. Ukraine fully supports this campaign. In this light we deem it necessary to further build on the Security Council Resolution 1612 and request the Secretary-General to include in the annexes to his reports on children and armed conflict those parties to armed conflict that engage in abductions of children.
I thank you, Mr. President.