UN says children in conflict areas around the world are denied access to aid

In a flagrant disregard for international law, children are being refused access to life-saving humanitarian aid in crisis areas across the globe, a senior U.N. official said on Wednesday.

Virginia Gamba, the U.N. ambassador on children and armed conflict, told a Security Council meeting, “Let me be very clear: The Geneva Conventions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child contain key provisions requiring the facilitation of humanitarian relief to children in need.”

According to her, “international humanitarian law also forbids attacking humanitarian workers who are assisting children or denying humanitarian access to children.”

According to her office, there were approximately 4,000 cases of aid denial in 2022, with the biggest number occurring in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Mali. According to Gamba, the data will be used in her office’s future report, which will continue the decline.

“In certain situations, such as those in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Haiti, to name just two, there are high levels of arbitrary obstacles and/or outright denials of humanitarian access to children,” she stated.

According to Gamba, denying access to aid is associated with a number of things, including restricting humanitarian movements and activities, interfering with humanitarian operations, discriminating against aid recipients, attacking civilian infrastructure directly and randomly, spreading misinformation, looting, and detaining, attacking, and killing humanitarian personnel.

Lack of health care, education, and nutrition particularly affects children and can have long-term effects. According to Gamba, it is much more disastrous for kids with disabilities. Additionally, it affects boys and girls in distinct ways.

“Instances of restrictions on girls’ movement pose a challenge to their access to aid in areas where it may be distributed, such as internally displaced person camps. On the other hand, teenage boys may be denied access due to their perceived association with an opposing party,” the speaker stated.

Gamba urged all concerned parties to guarantee the security and safety of humanitarian workers and supplies, as well as to permit and promote children’s access to services, protection, and support. According to her, international humanitarian law also has to provide protection for schools, hospitals, and their employees.

The Security Council was encouraged to assist humanitarians in gaining the necessary access by UNICEF’s deputy executive director. Ted Chaiban emphasized the need for relief organizations to have greater access across borders and conflict lines, as well as additional exemptions from sanctions resolutions for their work and the freedom to interact with all armed groups without fear of repercussions.

Our colleagues on the ground are trying to reach children all around the world in increasingly challenging operational conditions, according to Chaiban, who also reaffirmed their commitment to sticking around and doing the job.

He declared, “Children are the ones who will bear the longest-lasting humanitarian consequences and the ones who are the first to suffer.” “Parties have an ethical and legal obligation to guarantee children’s access to humanitarian aid.”