Mr. President,

Every child has the right to protection, care and all the support and services they need to reach their full potential - including and especially children in wartime and on the run. Switzerland attaches the utmost importance to respecting the rights of refugees and children.

For the past twenty months, however, Russia's military aggression against Ukraine has plunged children's lives into insecurity and instability. According to figures from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), over 550 children have been killed since February 2022. More than 1,100 have been injured. Many schools have been destroyed, and children are traumatized by repeated bombardments of populated areas. Switzerland also remains deeply concerned by the deportation of children to Russia and the illegal transfer of children within Russian-occupied territories, as noted by the Independent Commission of Inquiry. Deportation and forcible transfer are war crimes.

Russia's military aggression has led to massive displacement and refugee flows. Nearly two out of every three children in Ukraine had to leave their homes. Children on the move are at increased risk of multiple violations, including trafficking and exploitation.

The international legal framework obliges states to protect the rights and guarantee the basic needs of the most vulnerable at all times, but especially in crisis situations, including armed conflict. Switzerland calls for absolute respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular the international obligations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First Additional Protocol. All these provisions grant special protection to children, and all parties must respect them.

We call on Russia to comply immediately with its obligations under international law. The grave violations committed against children must stop immediately. It is essential that those responsible for these crimes be held accountable.

I thank you.