(Check against delivery)
Allow me to begin by extending my deepest appreciation to the Government of Sweden for their leadership in convening this Open Debate. I would also like to thank briefers for their insightful briefings.
It is deeply regrettable that the number of violations against children in armed conflicts has increased greatly over the previous year. We are grieved to think of the children who suffer violence and the deprivation of their rights.
The Government of Japan strongly condemns the perpetrators of such violations against children, and calls for accountability to end impunity.
The international community is faced with the challenge of protecting children affected by armed conflicts and preventing future violence. In particular, measures should be implemented to support children to return to a peaceful and ordinary life. It is crucial to ensure humanitarian access and long term support for these children not only to heal their wounds but also to give them hope for a peaceful future.
It is with this belief that the Government of Japan became the first donor to the humanitarian window of the Fund to End Violence against Children launched by the Secretary General in 2016.
By supporting twelve projects in Nigeria and Uganda, Japan is contributing to addressing the consequences of violence today and building a better society tomorrow. We believe that these actions could serve the human security interests of children under armed conflicts by protecting and empowering them. Let me share a story of a child who receives assistance through one of the projects supported by Japan in Uganda.
As described in the report of the Secretary-General, 1,221 children were recruited and used in the armed conflict and 900 cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence against boys and girls were verified in South Sudan.
A number of unaccompanied children fled conflicts and violence from South Sudan to neighboring countries, including Uganda.
Among them, a 17-year-old girl and her 15-year-old sister fled from South Sudan to a refugee camp in Uganda. Having lost her father and been abandoned by her mother, she is now 7 months pregnant and soon to be a single mother. Stress from displacement and her situation has also deprived her of schooling, and she now suffers from Hepatitis B. She sells her own food to take care of medical expenses.
A skills development activity in the project aims to provide the girl with a stable income for her baby, her sister and herself. Regular home visits by the project staff allow her to share her struggles and concerns.
This is just one of the many children experiencing the consequences of violence in conflict settings, and the projects helping them today. By creating safe environments; supporting parents; and ensuring adequate incomes through vocational education, the projects are also preventing violence in the future.
The Government of Japan calls on others to join the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children and invest in solutions to address violence against children in armed conflicts.
We should believe in the strength of children and empower them as our partners in the peace process.
Together, we must end the cycle of violence and build a peaceful and sustainable future.
I thank you.