‘No one can justify killing a single child’
By Cherno Omar Bobb
RT honourable Ibrahim Zanna Sanonma, deputy speaker National Children’s Parliament Nigeria has said that no one can justify the killing of a single child during conflict.
He made the remarks on Monday during the opening of a 2-day African Union Peace and Security Council Ministerial and High-Level Open Session on the promotion and protection of the rights of children in conflict situations on the continent.
The event hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Gambians Abroad was held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre.
“History has taught us that we children are keen in our pursuit of knowledge and are filled with potential, not only for ourselves, families, communities but for our country and the world at large. The situation today has robbed us of this beautiful history, and when a child is robbed of his history, he settles for any future,” he stated.
“No one, absolutely no one can justify the killing of a single child,” he said, adding “in the corridors of our vandalised schools, dangerous streets and within the confines of refugee camps our dreams persist.”
He quoted Malcom X as saying that “Education is the passport to the future; for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” However, he said unfortunately, today, their classrooms are burnt, their teachers killed, their parents brutally murdered, their roads to schools no long safe, their schools that they regard as safe heavens are now battlegrounds, and unfathomable of them, their innocent souls are taken away from them.
He stated that children are not just statistics, but are promises of a brighter future. “Our well-being, our dreams, rest upon the actions taken by those entrusted with power. Let us not fail in our responsibility to protect, nurture, and empower every child affected by conflict,” he further said.
Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security said the nature of conflicts on the continent have changed, putting children in the frontline in new and appalling ways.
“Wars are lasting longer with more attacks on schools and hospitals. The denial of humanitarian aid is now used as yet another weapon of war. The international rules and basic standards of conduct that exist to protect civilians in conflict are not being observed with impunity,” he pointed out.
He noted that children continue to disproportionately suffer the consequences of these brutal trends.
“More children are facing unimaginable mental and physical trauma; going hungry; falling
victim to preventable diseases; are out of school; are at risk of sexual violence and recruitment by armed groups; and more children are trapped on the frontline without access to humanitarian aid,” he also said.
Ambassador Adeoye highlighted that if the rights and welfare of children are not protected in conflict situations, the achievement of sustainable peace and security in Africa may be curtailed.
He called on delegates to renew their resolve to ensure that appropriate policies are
enacted to make sure the pervasive harm and shame children experience in war is met with the necessary assistance and support for reparation and justice.
“If the cycle of abuse in the context of conflict is to be broken, more must be done to shatter the culture of impunity for those who commit these crimes,” he further said.