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Remarks by H.E. Mr Sven Jürgenson Permanent Representative of Estonia and President of the UNICEF Executive Board at the World Humanitarian Summit Side Event on Child Protection May 23, 2016

23.05.2016

Remarks by H.E. Mr Sven Jürgenson

Permanent Representative of Estonia and President of the UNICEF Executive Board

at the World Humanitarian Summit Side Event:

Leaving No Child Unprotected: Child Protection across the Development and Humanitarian divide

Monday 23rd May 2016

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

Firstly, let me thank ChildFund Alliance, The Child Protection Working Group, UNICEF and all the partners organising this event to discuss an important topic -  child protection. Protection from violence, abuse and exploitation at all times is a basic right of every child. Child protection concerns arise in all parts of the world, in situations of crisis and stability – this is a truly universal issue. Our discussion today focuses on the humanitarian settings and provides us with an opportunity to highlight the increasing focus on protection in humanitarian response more broadly – and child protection more specifically.

Over the past three years, the number of people in need of international humanitarian protection has tripled. A large proportion of those in need of protection are children – they make up nearly half the total of the world’s 60 million displaced people and are more than half of all refugees.

But children are more than simply a large proportion of those requiring humanitarian support. Children with their innocence, trust and lack of life experience are particularly vulnerable in emergencies and face increased risks of violence, exploitation and abuse. They have specific protection needs that often differ from adults and are not met by other humanitarian sectors. Children may be separated from their families, trafficked, forced into child labor, recruited or used by armed forces and groups, come into contact with the justice system, face economic exploitation and physical or sexual abuse, with dire consequences. As research demonstrates, abuse and neglect, especially during infancy and early childhood, have lasting effects on brain development and future cognitive capacity. Therefore, children as the most vulnerable must be a central focus of our efforts to address global humanitarian challenges and their unique differences must be addressed in the humanitarian programs.

Solutions exist to protect children from violence and abuse in emergencies and they do work. A recent report by the Global Protecion Cluster´s Child Protection Working Group showed that interventions to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation, when delivered in a timely manner contributed to either prevent death or serious injury, immediately or in the longer term.

Let me mention some of these solutions and ways to protect children in emergencies:

·         Education in emergencies will help to give children some kind of normalcy and to put them on a path of opportunity. Also, education as means of child protection is a proven strategy to reduce and eliminate violence against children and child labor in crises situations. A special fund for education in emergencies will be launched during WHS.

·         Protection of children from all kind of violence, including gender-based violence, especially sexual violence. The new Global Partnership to End Violence against Children presents a compelling agenda for action and has the potential to offer a multi-stakeholder approach to violence prevention, response and bridge the funding gap for child protection interventions from humanitarian response, to early recovery and long-term development.

·         Providing family tracing and reunification services for children who are separated from their families and caregivers as quickly as possible, while ensuring their care.  

·         Provide essential psycho social support to children affected by emergencies. This includes counseling, dialogue, recreation, informal education and life skills programmes that promote conflict resolution, reduce stress, build confidence and self-esteem, and encourage peer-to-peer support. Providing organized learning centers where children can continue their cognitive development while maintaining their normal daily routine and access services such as psycho social support.

·         Working with governments and armed groups to eradicate child recruitment and use and advocate for their release and reintegration of all children associated with armed forces or armed groups.

·         And more broadly advocate for strengthening of all components of child protection systems - human resources, finances, laws, standards, governance, monitoring and services. This is important both in humanitarian and development context. I have just recently seen – in development context – how effectively UNICEF with its partners and in cooperation with the government is doing this in Argentina.

This takes me to the issue of humanitarian and development divide. Child protection is a programmatic area that meets both short- and long-term needs. Special attention must be paid to child protection in emergencies to address immediate risks, but we must also advocate for long-term change, helping governments develop and adopt child friendly laws and policies. Therefore, the humanitarian and development actors must find ways to work better together. Agenda 2030 provides a good framework to do so as child protection issues are well represented – for example eliminating violence against children in Goal 16.2 and eliminating modern slavery in goal 8.7. Practically speaking we can bridge the humanitarian-development divide through joint humanitarian-development programming and exploring funding instruments that can unlock both humanitarian and development funding streams. In the UN family UNICEFs is very well positioned for implementing this agenda with its double mandate. And is already doing so with prioritizing child protection and strengthened support for education in emergencies and protracted crises, which is critical within child protection.

Finally,

All girls and boys have a right to be protected at all times. Protecting children is a life-saving measure in humanitarian polices and a sound investment in reducing the life-long negative impact on children’s well-being and future development. Many solutions exist to protect children from violence and abuse in emergencies. For those solutions to be implemented, all actors must prioritize child protection and do more to ensure that child protection is an integral part of early action, decision-making and response

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