The Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UN to protect children affected by the conflict.
The MoU was signed in Riyadh by Virginia Gamba, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict, and Maj. Gen. Fahd bin Turki bin Abdul Aziz, the Arab coalition’s commander of the joint forces.
Speaking at a press conference, Gamba said that the Houthi militia had been involved in gross violations of using children in the armed conflict in Yemen.
Gamba added that the Iranian-backed militias had committed violations against children instead of taking action to protect them from the civil war. The MoU signed between the coalition and the UN reflected a strong commitment to strengthen the protection of children affected by the conflict as well as preventing them from being exploited by the rebels.
“The MoU consolidates the position of the two sides to strengthen efforts in protecting children affected by conflict in Yemen,” she said.“This will give us best practices and understanding on how to prevent children from being used in armed conflict.”
“I am convinced that the coalition led by Saudi Arabia will play a significant role in serving the great purpose of keeping children away from the armed conflict,” she said.
She noted that the MoU is the first of its kind and expressed the hope that it will become a global campaign. The UN would conduct an international campaign on the dangers children facing in the armed conflict, she said.
She also expressed hope that the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) would be of great help with its rehabilitation program that served children who are used by the Houthi militias to act as combatants and human shields in the conflict.
The UN had launched a number of initiatives to end the recruitment and use of children in conflict. It believed that children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns, she said.
Gen. Fahd said that the MoU signed between the two sides deals with “noble humanitarian aspects” and these two sides will work to strengthen the goals toward the protection of children.
The press conference was also attended by permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi and Brig. Gen. Mubarak Al-Zahrani, head of the child protection unit in the coalition.