The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) signed an Action Plan with the United Nations to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18.
The Force Commander of the SDF, General Mazloum Abdi, signed on behalf of the SDF and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, signed on behalf of the United Nations during an official ceremony at the Palais des Nations on June 29th, 2019.
Through this Action Plan, the SDF commits to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, to identify and separate boys and girls currently within its ranks and to put in place preventative, protection and disciplinary measures related to child recruitment and use. The Action Plan follows the listing of the People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) for the recruitment and use of children in the Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict; the YPG/YPJ operates under the command of the SDF.
The Special Representative welcomes the SDF’s commitment.
“It is an important day for the protection of children in Syria and it marks the beginning of a process as it demonstrates a significant commitment by the SDF to ensure that no child is recruited and used by any entity operating under its umbrella,” said Special Representative Gamba.
The signature of the Action Plan is the result of months of engagement between the United Nations and the Syrian Democratic Forces, in close consultation with the Special Representative.
Special Representative Gamba commended the work of child protection partners on the ground, noting that the context in Syria remains one of the direst amongst the countries on her agenda with appalling consequences for children.
The Special Representative highlighted the importance of Actions Plans to engage with parties to conflict, a strong tool of the CAAC mandate since 2003, per Security Council Resolution 1460.
“Actions Plans represent an opportunity for parties to change their attitude and behavior so that grave violations against children stop and are prevented to durably improve the protection of children affected by armed conflict. I urge all parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General annual report, in Syria and elsewhere, to seize the opportunity to engage with the UN and adopt Action Plans,” SRSG Gamba added.
As the conflict is continuing in its ninth year, the SRSG urged all parties to work towards a political solution in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254 (2015) to bring sustainable peace to the country, as this remains the best option to prevent grave violations against children.