"There is no second chance for childhood. As we gather here today, children in many armed conflicts around the world fear for their lives," underlined Switzerland at the UN Security Council's annual open debate on children and armed conflict on 26 June. The UN Secretary-General's annual report on children and armed conflict paints a grim picture. It shows the highest number of grave violations of children's rights ever recorded, affecting children in all regions of the world. It includes alarming upward trends in the recruitment of children into armed conflict in Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the abduction and killing of children in Israel and northern Nigeria, the overwhelming numbers of children killed and maimed in Gaza and Sudan, and the inadequate humanitarian access in both contexts. The attacks on schools and hospitals in Myanmar and Ukraine and the sexual violence against children by armed gangs in Haiti are also of particular concern. In its statement, Switzerland stressed the need for the Security Council to step up its efforts to protect children in armed conflicts. A concrete example of this is the transition period for the withdrawal of UN missions from conflict zones. "We note with great concern that the number of serious violations of children's rights has either stagnated or increased in several transition phases, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," said the Swiss representative in New York. It is the duty of the Security Council to ensure that the protection of children remains a priority in such transitional phases. Switzerland contributes to this by funding UNICEF or by sending child protection specialists to UN organizations, as it did after the withdrawal of the UN mission in Mali. Switzerland also called on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, to stop attacks on schools and hospitals, and to ensure access for humanitarian aid. "Peace and respect for international law are the best protection for children. In particular, international humanitarian law, human rights and international refugee law must be respected. At the same time, it is our duty as members of the Security Council to step up our efforts to find political solutions to conflicts and to prevent them," Switzerland stressed.