UN must do more to tackle crimes against children says Save The Children chief

Helle Thorning Schmidt Ceo Of Save The Children Visits The Zaatari Refugee Camp In Jordan
Helle Thorning-Schmidt, CEO of Save The Children International and a member of the Education Commission, visits the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan (Save The Children, https://www.savethechildren.net/)

Child soldiers, Children in conflicts, Education Cannot Wait, Education funding, Education in emergencies, Refugees and internally displaced people, Safe schools

The head of Save the Children International, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, has demanded increased United Nations funding to investigate crimes against children, as she condemned violations of their rights worldwide.

“More than 50% of those affected by war are children,” she said in a speech yesterday at a London event called Protecting Children in War and Conflict. “But less than 5% of humanitarian funding is spent protecting or educating them. This has to change.”

Her speech came as the ceasefire between government and rebel forces in Syria – where some eight million children are threatened by war – neared the end of its second week.

Helle Thorning Schmidt Ceo Of Save The Children Holds A Baby At The Zaatari Refugee Camp In Jordan

Helle Thorning-Schmidt holds a baby at the Zaatari camp during a visit last year (Save The Children, https://www.savethechildren.net/)

The UN-led mechanism for monitoring and reporting crimes against children was “chronically underfunded” she said.

Thorning-Schmidt, who was prime minister of Denmark until 2015, said “independent special courts” might be a new way to hold peacekeepers to account in war zones, in the absence of functioning legal systems.

She used her speech to criticise European governments who hold child refugees in “detention-like conditions”, saying that Save the Children has had to scale up its humanitarian work in Europe since the beginning of the refugee crisis.

Last May, a top UN human rights official urged Greece to stop detaining refugee and migrant children, some of whom are locked in police cells for weeks.

Commission mission

Helle Thorning-Schmidt is a member of the Education Commission.

The commission is a group of world leaders, policy-makers and researchers working together to tackle the lack of funding for education.

They delivered the Learning Generation report –  a bold plan to get every child in school by 2030 – to the UN in September.

Learn more about the report and its recommendations. The commission is now taking its findings to country leaders. Visit the Education Commission website.

“Detention is never in a child’s best interest,” Thorning-Schmidt said in a copy of the speech to the event hosted by the European Institute and held at the London School of Economics. “And is in clear contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

She pointed to forced displacement as one of the biggest dangers facing children in war zones and condemned the recruitment of 17,000 children into armed forces in South Sudan.

“What we are seeing are new and worrying incarnations of long perpetrated violations of children’s rights,” she said.

Thorning-Schmidt’s speech comes one month after seven-year-old Syrian girl Bana Alabed was evacuated from Aleppo where her tweets of life in the war-torn Syrian city went viral.

After being led safely from the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo, she and her family arrived in Turkey in December.

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