Around the world, millions of children living in conflict zones are being subjected to unimaginable suffering as they are abducted to fight in wars, denied their right to education, abused and targeted as deliberate victims of war.
I understand that Save the Children is calling on the Government to update the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Strategy to address the challenges facing children living in conflict. I was proud to see this strategy launched in March 2010, however, 9 years on, the world, the forms conflicts take and the threats facing children in conflict areas have evolved, and the strategy needs to evolve too.
I was elected on a manifesto that committed to publishing a strategy for protecting civilians in conflict, setting out detailed plans for work on conflict prevention and resolution, post-conflict peacebuilding, and justice for the victims of war crimes.
The UK Government says it is currently reviewing its strategy on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict and is committed to ensuring that its approach benefits all civilians, including children. It is taking into account research by academics and non-government organisations as it undertakes the review. It aims to complete the review by the end of 2019.
I have written to the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, and asked him to include the five points raised by Save the Children in the Government’s ongoing review of the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Strategy. I have posted this letter below for your information:
The Government says that the protection of children in conflicts and crises remains a top priority for the UK. However, I am concerned that some of the Government’s own actions have gone against this commitment to protect civilians and children, by undermining positive international development work through incoherent policies, such as selling arms to the Saudi-led coalition whilst sending aid to Yemen.
I believe immediate steps should be taken to ensure policy coherence. There should be a whole of government approach to reduce poverty and inequality, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – including Goal 16 on ending violence against children – and build a world that works for all.