Statement by Turkey on Children and Armed Conflict at the Security Council

Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu 09.07.2018
Mr. President,

We thank the Secretary General for his report and his Special Representative Ms. Virginia Gamba for her tireless efforts in taking the “Children and Armed Conflict” agenda forward.

We welcome the adoption of the Security Council Resolution earlier today, which we co-sponsored.

Unfortunately, children continue to be disproportionately affected by armed conflicts around the world. We are deeply troubled by the increase in the number of violations committed against children in 2017.

As we speak, millions of children seek to survive under the unprecedented challenges stemming from conflicts and related displacement. We see the suffering and hopelessness very vividly in the eyes of Syrian, Palestinian, Rohingya and other children.

However, despair cannot and should not prevail if hope is to triumph. We must continue to work hard to provide a better future for children who suffer from armed conflicts.

Mr. President,

The crisis in Syria has taken the biggest toll on children. The findings of the Secretary General’s report prove that the conditions of Syrian children is alarming. They are facing violence imposed upon them not only by the regime but also by terrorist groups.

The responsibility of the international community in terms of its failure to protect and prevent cannot be overlooked either. In this context, we observe the side effects of empowering terrorist entities. It is worth mentioning, in this regard, one of the important findings of the Secretary General’s report:

During the reporting period, the verified cases of recruitment and use of children by the YPG/YPJ terrorist organization, increased fivefold from 46 to 224 compared to 2016.

In fact, the PKK/PYD/YPG terrorist organization has a longstanding practice of forcefully recruiting young girls and boys in violation of international law and norms. 40% of PKK recruits are children younger than 18, while 10% are under the age of 15.

Recently, the PKK terrorist organization, under the pretext of fighting DEASH in Iraq, has forcefully recruited minor Yazidis and transferred them to the battlegrounds far from their homeland and mercilessly punished those unyielding to this horrendous attempt.

PYD/YPG resort to the same tactic in Syria. As a recent case in point, I would like to bring to the Council’s attention a press release issued by the World Council of Arameans on 29 May 2018, which drew the attention of the international community to the abductions of as many as 50 young Arameans by PYD/YPG for the purpose of forced recruitment.

Mr. President,

To protect children from falling in the hands of terrorist organizations, the international community should exercise full solidarity and cooperation in fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

It should also be underlined that references to non-state armed groups within the context of the “Children and Armed Conflict” agenda, including the Resolution we co-sponsored today, should not be construed in any way that terrorist organizations are subjects of international humanitarian law. We shall resolutely continue fighting against terrorist organizations in accordance with applicable international law and our national counter terrorism legislation.

Mr. President,

Meeting the fundamental humanitarian needs of children in conflicts and emergencies, including for the provision of health services must be one of our priorities. In the meantime, investing in the education of all children, including girls, requires a particular attention.

Last but not least, it is clear that the best way of keeping children from harm’s way is to work to prevent the outbreak of armed conflicts in the first place. With this understanding, Turkey will continue to support the Secretary General’s focus on prevention.

Thank you.