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UN marks 20 years of work to improve protection of children affected by conflict

Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui in South Sudan meeting with children affected by the 2014 conflict. Photo: Office for Children and Armed Conflict/Stephanie Tremblay

The senior United Nations advocate for children caught up in conflict is reaching out to parents, elders, and the entire international community to keep children away from armies and militias – a UN role that over the past two decades has helped more than 115,000 child soldiers regain their youth.

“My role is to reach them, to try to convince them that they are the ones who can make a difference on the ground,” the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, told UN News on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of her office’s mandate.

Ms. Zerrougui noted that as a UN envoy, she could not advance the mandate without the support of the 193-member UN General Assembly, the Security Council, and regional organizations.

Just as important, however, has been the role of civil society actors, who are often on the frontlines of a conflict, working to aid communities and confronting the same difficulties.

“We can support initiatives, we can propose ideas, we can help, we can bring a voice, but we cannot solve the problem without those who are directly involved,” said Ms. Zerrougui. “Member States, civil society, fighting parties, and of course, those who can make a difference because they are supporting or they have the leverage.” Read More

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