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Press Release
UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York


Fifty-seventh General Assembly
Third Committee
21st Meeting (AM)
GA/SHC/3702
16 October 2002



CONDITIONS OF PEACE, SECURITY ESSENTIAL FOR CHILDREN’S

PHYSICAL HEALTH, THIRD COMMITTEE TOLD
Committee Concludes Discussion of Children’s
Issues; Will Consider Indigenous People Tomorrow


Delegations expressed grave concern for the physical health and psychological well-being of children as a result of war, civil strife and occupation, as the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Humanitarian, Social, Cultural) this morning concluded its consideration of the rights of children. 

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The observer of Palestine highlighted the plight of Palestinian children -- children who had only known a life under brutal occupation.  Only the constant denial and violation of human rights had marked the life of Palestinian children, she said.  They had suffered killings, injuries, raids, and destruction, and a recent study had revealed that 68 per cent of Palestinian children suffered from psychological trauma, resulting in anxiety, fear, nightmares, anger and depression.  The world of Palestinian children today -- that of life under occupation -- could in no way be reconciled with the ideal of a world fit for children.  

The death of any child -- Palestinian or Israeli -- was a terrible tragedy, said the representative of Israel.  Children must be kept out of conflicts -- they should not be targets or victims.  They must be taught the language of peace and the language of life, not the language of death.  Unfortunately, certain speakers on this issue demonstrated exactly the opposite -- using the language of conflict and cynicism, and implying that there was no hope for the children of the region.   Israel called on its neighbour countries to cooperate in order to create a Middle East “Fit for Children”, end the planting of seeds of hate, and start sowing the seeds of peace. 

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Statements

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MOHAMMED SALEH (Bahrain) ...

Heads of State and Government at the Millennium Summit had pledged to address the tragic situation of children in armed conflict, he said.  In that regard, Bahrain would draw attention to the unprecedented suffering of the women, elderly persons, as well as children living in the Palestinian occupied territories.  Indeed, the occupation itself was a violation of human rights, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The international community should spare no efforts to bring an end to the occupation and secure a better future for all the children of the region.

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SALIM AHMED AL-NAQBI (United Arab Emirates) ...

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Particular attention should be drawn to the situation of the children in the Palestinian occupied territories, who suffered daily flagrant violations of their rights at the hands of Israeli forces.  The United Arab Emirates insisted that the United Nations and, particularly the Security Council, should spare no effort to bring about an end to the Israeli occupation and to ensure that Israel ceased its indiscriminate treatment of the people in the territories and abided by international laws, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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NADYA RASHEED, Observer of Palestine, said the international community had expressed deep concern about, and given considerable attention to, the plight of Palestinian children -- children who had only known a life under brutal occupation.  This life had been marked by the constant denial and violation by Israel of even the most basic of human rights.  Palestinian children had suffered killings, injuries, raids, destruction and detention at the hands of the Israeli occupying forces.  They had been denied education with the repeated closure of their schools and denied access to proper medical care.  Palestinian children had suffered both physical and psychological trauma as a result of the incessant violent military assaults, human rights abuses, home demolitions, and land confiscation and destruction.

In addition, Palestinian children, who constituted 53 per cent of the population, had also extensively suffered injuries as a result of the excessive and indiscriminate force used by the occupying forces.  Moreover, studies had revealed that Israel’s oppressive measures had caused psychological trauma in more than 68 per cent of Palestinian children, resulting in anxiety, fear, nightmares, anger and depression.  Palestinian children needed to be free and to live peacefully in their own independent State, enjoying all of the rights to which they as humans were entitled.  The world of Palestinian children today -- that of life under occupation -- could in no way be reconciled with the ideal of a world fit for children.  

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NAWAF N.M. AL-ENEZI (Kuwait) ...

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... Attention should also be drawn to the situation of Palestinian children suffering daily violations of their human rights at the hands of Israeli forces in the occupied territories.  It was time for the international community to take every effort to ensure that the noble objectives of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the outcome of the Assembly's special session on children, were implemented for the benefit of all children and youth.

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GARY KOREN (Israel) said Israel’s executive, judicial and parliamentary branches of Government had been working closely with NGOs, and with children themselves, to take comprehensive steps towards the implementation of international instruments and agreements for the protection of children’s rights.  One of the most critical and important elements in the long-term protection of the rights of the child was education, for a culture of peace and tolerance.  This was particularly true in his region.  If the region was to ever live in peace and security, it was imperative that peace not be ensured merely by treaties, but also by the deep understanding of the peoples themselves of the need to respect and appreciate each other.  In this respect, ongoing efforts to bring Israeli and Palestinian children together through youth projects, seminars and summer camps were of prime importance. 

The death of any child, Palestinian or Israeli, was a terrible tragedy.  Children must be kept out of conflicts -- they should not be targets or victims.  They must be taught the language of peace and the language of life, not the language of death.  Unfortunately, certain speakers on this issue demonstrated exactly the opposite -- using the language of conflict and cynicism, and implying that there was no hope for the children of the region.   Israel called on its neighbour countries to cooperate in order to create a Middle East “Fit for Children”, end the planting of seeds of hate, and start sowing the seeds of peace. 

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MAI TAHA MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) praised the outstanding efforts of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu.  However, she had hoped that he would have referred to the situation of children in the occupied Palestinian terrorities.  The suffering of the Palestinian child was unimaginable.  Palestinian children were deprived of their most basic human rights.  They were barred from having a bright future since Israel had closed Palestinian schools.  She referred to the report of Israel to the Committee on the Rights of Child, where the Committee had expressed its concern regarding to the situation of Palestinian children and their subjection to torture at detention centers.  In addition, the Committee had been concerned about the deterioration of health services in Palestine, and called for the full commitment of the Israeli Government to the Geneva Convention. 

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Statements in Right of Reply

In exercise of the right of reply, the observer of Palestine said her delegation had listened carefully to the statement of the Israeli delegation, particularly the segments which had called for peace over continued violence in the region.  But in order for the children of the Palestinian territories to live in peace rather than in constant fear, the occupation must end.  The Israeli delegation's racist statement that Palestinian children were sent out to be killed was highly regrettable.  Palestinians did not teach their children violence or hate.  Palestinian parents wanted what all parents wanted:  for their children to live and security in peace.

And as for Palestinian youth responding to Israeli incursions by throwing rocks, she said history had never witnessed anyone welcoming occupation with open arms.  The Israeli representative had said all the people of the region must live in peace, but first things first:  end the occupation.

In reply, the representative of Israel said during the last two days, the Committee had heard from various delegations the myriad social ills affecting the world's youth.  They had underscored that the number of children affected by poverty, poor health, conflict and lack of access to basic necessities and education was indeed in the millions.  Nevertheless, it appeared that that the intent of some delegations was to divert the discussion to only one issue.  There had been an obvious attempt to hijack the agenda of the Committee.  He pointed out that the deaths that had occurred in the heat of battle were unfortunate.

Israel regretted that innocent Palestinian children had been hit in the midst of fighting while his country exercised its right to self defence.  He stressed however, that the Israeli children and youth that had been killed during the many years of the conflict had been targeted because they were Jews and Israelis.  The Palestinian side should stop its murderous activities and incitement, and revert to dialogue.  The end of occupation would not come through terror.  Israel would not succumb to terrorist activities.  The only way to achieve a settlement was through peaceful negotiation.


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