Minister Goffin calls for special attention to the situation of children in the conflict in Syria

On 29 and 30 June, the European Union organises the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region. Belgium will also take part in this meeting, which brings together all the relevant actors to discuss the effective approach to the situation. The aim is to support the United Nations in its efforts towards a comprehensive political solution and to mobilise resources for Syrian citizens and neighbouring countries hosting refugees from Syria. The meeting will also provide an opportunity for important dialogue with civil society actors.

On the occasion of the conference, Belgium is organising a round table on violations of children's rights in Syria today. "After more than nine years of violent conflict, the situation of children in Syria is downright dramatic," says Minister Goffin. "Unfortunately, no child escapes the negative impact of the crisis. Even more than other affected civilians, children are suffering the severe consequences of continued violence. They die in air raids or from explosive remnants, their schools are bombed, and they are denied access to humanitarian aid. Additional risks of malnutrition and food insecurity are exacerbated by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must continue to work together and take targeted action to address this unsustainable situation".

Belgium invites the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to explain the challenges through Hanny MEGALLY, member of this Commission of Inquiry. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), which is committed to the welfare of children, will also make recommendations for better protection of children in Syria. Both Javier AGUILAR and Tania McBRIDE speak on behalf of UNICEF. With Ezequiel HEFFES of Geneva Call, a non-governmental humanitarian mediator, Belgium aims at suggestions for improving humanitarian access to civilians in general and children in particular.

The round table is closely linked to a standing commitment of Belgian foreign policy. Belgium has been committed for years to the protection of children in armed conflict, also by financially supporting UNICEF.

In July 2019, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict of the UN Security Council adopted conclusions on the situation of children in Syria under Belgian chairmanship. The Security Council unanimously called perpetrators of child rights violations to order. Belgium led the negotiations on the recommendations to prevent such violations. Belgium, together with Germany, is also working within the Security Council to reach agreements on the provision of cross-border humanitarian aid on which millions of citizens in Syria are currently dependent.