UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake statement on Universal Children’s Day: Protect the rights of every child


UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake statement on Universal Children’s Day: Protect the rights of every child

On 9 November 2016, a young girl is seen on her way to Ain Issa, escaping violence in the Al- Hisha village in rural Raqqa. Some carried mattresses and blankets, while others brought their livestock, including goats, cows and sheep. Ain Issa is the main staging point for displaced families, some 50 Km north of Raqqa city.

As at 15 November 2016 in the Syrian Arab Republic, almost 7,000 people fled their homes in villages around rural Raqqa to Ain Issa, the main staging point for displaced families, some 50 kilometres north of Raqqa city, as reported military operations on ISIL controlled Raqqa city scale up. Children in Raqqa have suffered immensely over the past three years and access to the area has been highly constrained due to insecurity and restrictions on the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The last UN inter-agency aid convoy to Raqqa was in October 2013. UNICEF and partners estimate that around 175,000 children could be affected by the violence.  While the situation in the Raqqa area continues to evolve, UNICEF is pre-positioning supplies in various locations to provide critical support for displaced children and their families, including preparing a package of items to provide winter clothing and thermal blankets, as well as critical hygiene and medical kits. Micronutrients, therapeutic food and vaccinations to improve the nutritional and health status of these children will also be available. While water trucking, network repairs and chlorination will provide safe water and reduce the likelihood of waterborne diseases. Materials to support psychosocial activities, as well as recreational and educational kits will also be provided to help children restart their learning and resume some normality in life.

© UNICEF/UN039564/Soulaiman

NEW YORK/HONG KONG, 20 November 2016 – “Universal Children’s Day is more than a day to celebrate children everywhere. It is an annual opportunity to recommit ourselves to protecting the rights of every child.

“Universal, inalienable rights that the world pledged to protect on this day in 1989, when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Rights to dignity and security. To be treated fairly and to live free from oppression. To have a fair chance in life.

“The health and soul of all societies depend not only on how these rights are recognized – and acted upon.

“On this Children’s Day, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that around the world, the rights of millions of children are being violated every day.

“They’re being violated in eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas across Syria, where children are cut off from food, water, and medical care.

“They’re being violated in Yemen, where children are dying because we cannot reach thousands of them with therapeutic foods to treat acute malnutrition – and where cholera now threatens more young lives.

“They’re being violated in northeastern Nigeria, where children – especially girls – are threatened by extremists who take away their very childhoods.

“They’re being violated in South Sudan, where millions of children are facing a severe nutrition crisis and the country faces the prospect of widespread atrocities.

“They’re being violated around the world, in every country, wherever children are the victims of violence, abuse and exploitation.

“Violated wherever they are deprived of an education.  Wherever they are denied the chance to make the most of their potential simply because of their race, their religion, their gender, their ethnic group, or because they are living with a disability.

“How will these children learn to respect the rights of others if their own rights are violated? How will they view the world, and their responsibility to it?

“These children are the future leaders of their societies. The future engines of their national economies. The future parents and protectors of the next generation.

“When we protect their rights, we are not only preventing their suffering. We are not only safeguarding their lives. We are protecting our common future.”