from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – PARTIES involved in the peace agreement in Ethiopia have been urged to prioritise the inclusion of children in the truce.
Children have borne the brunt of the two-year conflict and their rights and need must also be a priority, said Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba.
Her sentiments come after the recent Agreement for Lasting Peace through a Permanent Cessation of Hostilities in Ethiopia, brokered by the African Union (AU).
Gamba hailed this as a milestone that provides an important opportunity to prioritise the protection of children, including by incorporating their rights and needs in the mediation process and peace discussions.
She advocates that the agreement must now urgently be translated into concrete improvements for civilians on the ground, including children, by accelerating the facilitation of humanitarian access and the protection of children.
The restoration of essential services such as education, health, mental health and psycho-social support, in particular for children, also must be prioritised.
“I commend the parties for this important milestone and for prioritizing peace,” Gamba said.
“I urge both sides to continue with negotiations on the outstanding issues in a spirit of reconciliation, including by ensuring that preventing violations against children are a key component of ceasefires,” Gamba said.
The envoy has also urged the antagonists to release any child that might have been recruited.
The crisis in the northern Tigray flared up in 2020 when regional authorities defied the federal government on some issues.
Children have seen their rights violated, in addition to the dire humanitarian crisis facing the country.
– CAJ News