The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, Save the Children, UNICEF Canada and World Vision Canada welcome Canada's continued leadership in championing the rights of children affected by armed conflict

TORONTO and HALIFAX, Feb. 21, 2017 /CNW/ - The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, Save the Children, UNICEF Canada and World Vision Canada, commend Canada for taking a strong stand against attacks on education through endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and supporting the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.

Canada's commitment to the Declaration was announced earlier today by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, at the Paris Ministerial International Conference on the 10th Anniversary of the Paris Commitments and the Paris Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, hosted by the Government of France.

Canada joins more than 50 nations in support for this critical international Declaration, established in 2015, which works to ensure the protection and continuation of education in armed conflict.

In the midst of conflict, school is a vital source of safety and hope for children, allowing them to learn, play and recover from trauma. Education is critical for the positive development and well-being of children and youth at a time when they are at their most vulnerable as it provides emotional, physical and cognitive safety. Education is also vital for enabling economic recovery, social stability and peace in the most fragile of contexts.

However, recent years have seen devastating damage done to children's access to education in emergencies. Education is increasingly interrupted, delayed or denied due to targeted attacks by armed non-state groups, state military and security forces and armed criminal groups. Schools and universities have also been used for military purposes in many countries experiencing armed conflict over the past decade.

Canada is globally respected as a defender of children's rights and as a leading advocate on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict. We are greatly encouraged by Canada's continued leadership in investing in educating and protecting children affected by conflict and crises. Canada should continue to champion support to ensure the respect and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure in the conduct of hostilities, including schools, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Canada's continued leadership on these critical issues will play a key role in supporting some of the world's most vulnerable children to continue to learn and reach their full potential.

SOURCE UNICEF Canada

For further information: Josh Boyter, the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, +1-902-494-2392, josh@childsoldiers.org; Katharine Harris, Save the Children, +1-416-221-5501 x 295, kharris@savethechildren.ca; Stefanie Carmichael, UNICEF Canada, +1-437-345-6324, scarmichael@unicef.ca; Chelsea MacLachlan, World Vision Canada, +1 905-565-6200 x 3231, Chelsea_Maclachlan@worldvision.ca

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