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France: 120 delegates attend UN conference on “Protect Children from War”

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  • Commends Iraqi offensive 

…Jude Johnson 

France has concluded plans to host 120 delegations representing states, international organizations and civil society for Tuesday’s International “Protect Children from War” conference organized jointly with UNICEF.

The Spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr. Romaine Nadal, in a statement on Monday, said President Francois Holande will open the conference.

According to Nadal, the conference will be co-chaired by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, and Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr. Anthony Lake.

He said the United Nations Secretary-General’s (UNSG) Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, will also take part.

The spokesman said initiative builds on the “Free Children from War” conference held in Paris in 2007.  It led to the adoption of the Paris Principles and Commitments, aimed at protecting children from recruitment by armed forces or groups.  Those principles and commitments received the support of 105 states.  Ten years later, France intends to broaden the international mobilization.

Nadal stated that the participants will present a progress report on the situation of children in armed conflicts, recall existing standards in order to promote their implementation and identify possible ways forward.

“The conference provides an opportunity to register states’ voluntary commitments on the issue, particularly the endorsement of the Paris Principles and Commitments by new countries,” he said.

….Commends western Mosul offensive 

The French also commended Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s announcement on 19 February that operations have begun to recapture the western part of Mosul.

“After the liberation of the eastern districts of the city last month thanks to the Iraqi forces’ bravery and effectiveness, this offensive should make it possible to free the city from the clutches of Daesh [so-called ISIL] and continue the significant process made since the beginning of operations against the terrorist organization in Iraq.

“Alongside our international coalition partners, France will continue lending its full support to the Iraqi armed forces in the second phase of the operation to liberate Mosul” the statement read.

France also recalled the vulnerability of civilians and insists that their protection should be guaranteed, in accordance with international humanitarian law.  France continues to support the action of the United Nations humanitarian agencies.

Ayrault had the opportunity, during a bilateral meeting with Mr. Haider al-Abadi in Munich, to reiterate France’s support for Iraq in the fight against terrorism and in its efforts to work for national reconciliation, which is the condition for lasting peace in that country.


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