Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin at UNSC debate on children and armed conflict


We thank the Estonian delegation for convening this VTC meeting. We are very glad to welcome you, Mme.President, in the Chair of the Security Council. We thank Secretary-General of the United Nations A.Guterres, Executive Director of UNICEF H.Fore and other briefers for their meaningful statements.

We commend the efforts of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict V.Gamba.

Russia pays priority attention to CAAC agenda. We have closely studied the report of the Secretary-General which presents an adequate overall assessment of the situation in this area. Being part of a most vulnerable group of population, children still suffer from armed action. That happens despite measures taken at both national and international levels.

We strongly condemn violations of provisions of the international humanitarian law, especially those that parties to armed conflict commit against children. The guilty sides must be subjected to a corresponding investigation and be held accountable. Both planned attacks and indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force against children and other categories of individuals under protection are unacceptable.

COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already dire situation of children in armed conflict zones. In the first place, it targeted the social and economic aspects of people’s life. At the same time, some countries continue exerting pressure and unilateral restrictive measures that i.a. impede deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines and equipment for testing and treatment.


We note he activity of Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. This mechanism should stick to a comprehensive approach when considering protection of children, as stipulated in UNSC resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent Council decisions. This implies equal attention to all six categories of grave violations against children both in the framework of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and in the thematic Working Group of the Council. We must be mindful that the main responsibility for protecting children in conflict rests with the states, whereas the SC Working Group should focus on the largest and most acute armed conflicts on the Security Council agenda.


We are very concerned over the status of children in the Syrian territories that are out of Damascus’s control – the Idlib de-escalation zone and northeastern Syria.

Idlib is controlled by 'Hayat Tahrir al-Sham', which the Security Council has listed as a terrorist organization. In fact, HTS uses the local population as a human shield. Children suffer most from the arbitrariness of local authorities. The statistics of child and early marriages in the enclave is growing. Schoolchildren cannot exit to governmental areas to take their exams.

The situation in IDP camps ‘Al-Hol’ and ‘Roj’ in the north-east of the country is no less catastrophic. Temporary accommodation facilities are overcrowded and exposed to extremist ideology and religious radicalism that are being spread there. We once again call on states to uphold their obligations under IHL to repatriate children of their citizens from armed conflict zones. We are ready to share our expertise, because since 2018 we have repatriated 318 Russian children from Syria and Iraq and now actively engage in their rehabilitation.

Apart from that, illegal unilateral sanctions that Western states imposed on Syria, immensely aggravate the situation in that country. There is a scarcity of basic necessity goods, food, clean drinking water, formula milk, medicines, school books. Western donors proclaim commitment to the fates of those children, but do so only in words. In reality, they refuse to finance both reconstruction and early-recovery infrastructure projects for Syria.

The situation in Afghanistan is another source of concern. The Security Council held a detailed discussion of the deteriorating situation in that country on Tuesday, 22 June 2021. Unfortunately, over the recent 20+ years the situation with protection of civilians and children there has seen little change. The sad statistics indicates that children got under airstrikes regularly, including the strikes launched by foreign troops.

Atrocious acts of terror continue to disturb Afghanistan. It is ISIL that stands behind the most recent of them. These heinous attacks also affect children. One of the recent examples was the attack on a girls’ school in May 2021. We condemn these crimes and call to investigate into them and have the perpetrators punished.

The situation with protection of children in Africa is also far not easy, especially in the countries on the SC agenda, such as the DRC, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, the CAR, and South Sudan. Violence affects not only girls, but also boys, whom armed groups recruit far more often. For example, significantly more crimes against child and teenage boys are committed in Somalia. The activity of ‘Boko Haram’, a terrorist group that is based in the Lake Chad Basin, has long assumed a cross-border character.

Mme. President,

What makes our heart ache is Ukraine. For over seven years on end, the country has been living in a state of political chaos, civil war, rights nihilism, and raging extreme nationalism. It is the eighth year of attempts that Kiev’s regime (that came to power after a coup d’état) takes to unleash hell on the population of eastern Ukraine. It uses regular army and punitive battalions of volunteer militia that flag Nazi symbols. It uses heavy weapons. Schools, hospitals, children’s playgrounds, key infrastructure facilities get under the precision fire of Ukraine’s military.

Over the years of armed conflict, more than 100 children have died at the hands of Ukrainian military. The Donetsk region registered 93 child deaths. 263 children got injured. 43 were disabled. The Luhansk region issued 34 certificates of death of children.

These horrendous figures is a tragedy of Donbass. I could have read out the names of the killed children.

This is why the local people keep bringing flowers to the “Alley of Angels” – a monument to children who died at the hands of Ukraine’s military who had raised arms against their fellow nationals.

Thank you.