OSLO: Saudi Arabia participated in the international conference “Protecting Children in Armed Conflict – Our Common Future” held recently in Oslo, Norway.
The Saudi delegation was led by the nation’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, or KSrelief, represented by Dr. Hana Omar, director of the Community Support Department and acting director of the Partnerships and International Relations Department.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized the conference with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Save the Children International.
Participants discussed the main challenges facing children in armed conflict, as the Norwegian foreign minister pledged NOK1 billion ($90.74 million) over three years.
KSrelief is working across the world to help educate and protect children in conflict-ridden areas, said Omar during the plenary session.
Omar later told Arab News that KSrelief provides psychological and mental health programs for children with disabilities and orphans, and creates awareness in communities about the importance of children’s rights, including being aware of attempts to recruit them as soldiers, and the dangers of mines.
These projects are delivered in cooperation with partners in the UN and local organizations, according to international humanitarian law, she said.
“Until today, more than 800 projects have benefited more than 163 million children with a cost of over $800 million,” she said.
A unit for the protection of children was established in the joint forces of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, and a memorandum of understanding was signed in 2019 with the Office of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
The Saudi delegation included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Human Rights Commission, and the Child Protection Unit of the Joint Forces of the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen.
Omar said: “KSrelief also offers a project for the reintegration of children formerly associated with the armed conflict since 2017 due to the increased number of child recruitment and ideological indoctrination campaigns by militias in Yemen.”
In Yemen, due to the rising number of mines, KSrelief has implemented a humanitarian clearance project since 2018. “To date, nearly 400,000 mines have been removed, benefiting more than 29 million people, including children,” said Omar.
She added that four centers are being supported for prostheses and training for local medical personnel. “Approximately 47,000 artificial limbs were installed and rehabilitated, including 8,358 for children, most of whom were affected by mines.”
The conference is in partnership with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs or OCHA, the African Union, the Office of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and the Child Protection Alliance in Humanitarian Action.