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Holy See decries sharp increase of children killed in conflict

The Vatican representative the UN, Monsignor Robert Murphy, addresses an open debate at the Security Council in New York on children and armed conflict and urges for concrete action to protect them from increasing atrocities.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Deputy Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations has decried the alarming increase of children killed in armed conflict around the world and the international community’s failure to protect them.

His remarks came as he addressed on Thursday an open debate at the Security Council on this issue, on the occasion the 25th anniversary of Resolution 1261 and the 75th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions.

Children killed in armed conflict  tripled since 2022

In his statement Monsignor Murphy highlighted the disturbing trend of the increase of children killed in armed conflicts, especially those living in populated areas where the use of explosive weapons has a devastating impact. 

The latest report of the UN Secretary General has revealed that the percentage of children killed in armed conflict has tripled since 2022, along with the number and intensity of conflicts around the world.

Thousands of children deprived of their childhood 

Monsignor Murphy expressed the Holy See’s particular concern that lethal weapons are increasingly being used against schools, hospitals and places of worship which, he said, should be safe havens, especially for children.  He also noted the influence of the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons on children, including their recruitment as child soldiers.

“It is imperative that the impact of these atrocities on children is not understated,” the Vatican diplomat said. “We are witnessing the annual deprivation of thousands of children’s childhood which we have the fundamental duty to preserve and guarantee”.

Urgent need to implement children and armed conflict agenda

The Vatican  Delegation therefore put forward three points for the Council’s consideration. The first was that access to humanitarian assistance is crucial for protecting children.

The second was that the cessation of the production, stockpiling, and use of indiscriminate weapons is an essential component to limiting the impact of armed conflict on children.

Finally, Msgr Murphy urged the Security Council working group to guarantee the optimal utilization of all available means to facilitate the implementation of the children and armed conflict agenda which it has failed to do so far. “This failure – he remarked – has concrete consequences for children in some of the most vulnerable situations.”

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