Qatar Sponsors Event to Enhance Access to Aid and Protection for Children Affected by Conflict

New York - Information Office - May 24


The State of Qatar, the European Union, the United States, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the Dominican Republic, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross, sponsored a virtual side event entitled "Enhancing Humanitarian Access and Protection for Children Affected by Conflict", which was organized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Geneva Call, on the sidelines of the UN Security Council annual debate on the protection of civilians.


The event highlighted the current efforts to secure humanitarian access, focusing on deficiencies in compliance with IHL obligations and exploring some ways to improve humanitarian access in conflict situations.


The event reviewed the best ways to provide children in conflict-affected areas with protection and health services, including vaccinations and education, with special attention to the situation of girls.


The UN Security Council Resolution 2601 (2021), of which the State of Qatar was one of the main adopters, constituted a reference to the points and issues raised by the participants in the side event. The resolution called for full, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access without delay to workers in the humanitarian and medical fields, in order to facilitate, among other things, COVID-19 vaccines which have been recognized as necessary to ensure the continued education and well-being of children.


In the speech of the State of Qatar, HE Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani underlined the importance of protecting children from the devastating effects of conflicts, and providing them with access to education, health services and comprehensive protection, which are among the main priorities of the State of Qatar.


Her Excellency stressed the importance to highlight that children who are among the most affected, noting that children affected by conflict in particular are also the least likely to benefit from vaccines and medicines.


She added that unequal access to vaccines is an assault on the children's rights enshrined in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, stressing the importance of the role of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.


HE Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani noted that the State of Qatar is one of the first countries in the region to support the Alliance, especially to support children in low-income and conflict-affected countries.


With regard to education, Her Excellency mentioned that there are more than 59 million children around the world who are deprived of their basic right to primary education, explaining that most of these children live in the most marginalized sectors of society, and do not receive a good primary education because of the enormous obstacles they face, including extreme poverty, or living in areas affected by armed conflict, limited resources, poor infrastructure, natural disasters, or other factors that make education unattainable. She also noted the increasing vulnerabilities faced by girls, children with disabilities and refugees.

In this context, Her Excellency noted the importance of designation September 9 of each year as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, which was approved by the United Nations General Assembly through the resolution submitted by the State of Qatar on the proposal of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Education Above All Foundation.


Her Excellency stressed the urgent need to take a set of political decisions on ways of implementing the international humanitarian law and improving monitoring of attacks on education.


In this context, she reviewed the objectives of the Education Above All Foundation, which are to influence the enrollment of at least 10 million out-of-school children, support the development of quality education, support education and develop innovative financing mechanisms to enhance the sustainability of the program, and keep the issue of out-of-school children at the top of the global and national agendas, especially ending impunity when it comes to attacks on schools, students and teachers.


Her Excellency recalled the statement made by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser on the occasion of the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack, when she said that attacks on education are increasing around the world every year, depriving millions of young people of a future; and that the students and staff killed or injured in these attacks are not collateral damage, they are victims of deliberate attacks, and they are targeted in the same places where they should be safe to learn and teach. It is time for the international community not to go beyond calls for accountability and to find concrete ways to stop such attacks.


On the occasion of the next International Day to Protect Education in September, HE Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani pointed to an opportunity to take action on the full and effective implementation of measures to protect education from attack, including Security Council Resolution No. 2601, and after the Transforming Education Summit called for by the UN Secretary-General and is supported by the State of Qatar.


In conclusion, Her Excellency announced the opening of a center for the promotion and protection of children affected by armed conflict to be affiliated to the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in Doha. She noted that the center will work to enhance knowledge and skills related to the protection of children affected by armed conflict in the Arab region, encourage the collection of information and promote the international cooperation to end and prevent violations against children in armed conflict.


Participants in the side event identified the priorities in the protection of children, especially in the most complex conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, focusing on the processes related to negotiating humanitarian access in conflict situations while ensuring the protection of children, and the provision of education and basic health services, including the distribution of vaccines.


The event reviewed the measures that parties to armed conflict must take to abide by them, the role of international responsibilities and various actors, including member states of international organizations and non-governmental organizations, to facilitate humanitarian access to children affected by conflict. The participants called for the development and implementation of effective and practical strategies from all conflict parties and relevant stakeholders to maintain access to people in need.


The event highlighted the challenges to safe access to aid and ensuring the continuity of education in light of several factors, including displacement and the disruption or weakening of entire systems of public services, in addition to the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

The event was attended by HE Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Ambassador Antje Leendertse; Head of Eurasia Region at Geneva Call Marie Lequin; Christian Cardon from the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa Adele Khader; Head of OCHA Policy Advice and Planning Section Aurelien Buffler; and Head of Humanitarian Aid Thematic Policies in Europe, Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Joanna Darmanin.


Also taking part in the second session were HE Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN Ambassador Philippe Kridelka; HE Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the UN Ambassador Jose Blanco; HE Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Felix Baumann; HE Ambassador at the United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations Jeffrey DeLaurentis.