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Libya: UNICEF’s Special Representative welcomes Al Zintan’s decision to stop the involvement of children in armed conflict

February 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

UNICEF’s Special Representative in Libya, Dr Ghassan Khalil, has commended the decision of Al Zintan’s Municipal Council for the release, rehabilitation and reintegration of any child under 18, involved in the armed conflict, and the establishment of a rehabilitation centre in the city that will also serve adults who as children were involved previously in armed conflicts.

Mr Mustafa Al Baroni, the Mayor of Al Zintan, stated “we hope that all Libyans, politicians, sages, citizens and civil society organizations would, each in their own position and capacity, exert more efforts to support reconciliation, stability, peace, safety and security in the country to build a state of justice, law and welfare, the modern state that we all dream of.” He added: “The future generations should inherit development and prosperity; we should leave for our children an environment of stability and security instead of hatred and grudges”.

UNICEF’s Special Representative in Libya expressed his concern about the recruitment of children in armed groups, and stated: “I would like to stress again to all the opposing parties in Libya that according to humanitarian law, the recruitment of children in armed groups is a crime against humanity, and I urge all parties all over Libya to prevent the involvement of children under 18 years of age in the armed conflict. I assert again that UNICEF is ready to provide the necessary support for the release, rehabilitation and reintegration of all children.”

Dr Khalil encouraged Zintan’s municipality to adopt a community approach in providing psychosocial support and mental health services for released children, and in ensuring that they are equipped with life skills and enrolled in schools which will guarantee them a better start and a positive engagement in the society.

Within the implementation of the MoU signed between UNICEF and the Municipal council of Zintan on 13th of April 2015 concluded under UNICEF’s “Together for Children” national campaign; and based on the positive and constructive follow up, an agreement was concluded on 20th February 2016 to establish a joint Steering Committee which involves 18 municipal councils, including Zintan’s. The steering committee will work on developing a comprehensive work plan for release, rehabilitation and reintegration of children involved in armed conflict, aligned with international standards. UNICEF will provide the technical support and the needed expertise to ensure the success of the initiative, guided by the global lessons learned. They also agreed to organize an initial five days training for the working team on the 14th of March, 2016.