Conference on War-Affected Children, Winnipeg, Canada - 5 Items

Dear All:

Please find in this compilation - Links to and  summaries of  4
stories + one full story all from the  Toronto Star Sept 17th
reporting from an  International Conference on
War-Affected Children in Winnipeg which  addressed  the
increasing number of children being drawn into violent crimes both as
victims and soldiers.   This conference that  brought together
children,   activists and experts  for the past six days  wrapped 
up on the weekend  with the arrival of cabinet ministers from more
than 40 countries.

In the end - wording in the final declaration was watered down
 as has been the case in so many previous and recent international
conferences in this era of globalization where vested  economic
and political interests seem to take precedent over the public trust
and human lives and rights. .

The following excerpt from # 2 below gives an idea of this divide
in the global political environment.

     Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who co-hosted
     the meeting with  International Co-operation Minister Maria
     Minna,  admitted diplomatic wrangling led to compromises  in
     some  parts of the final declaration, but called the
      conference  ``a big step forward.''

      Axworthy noted that while a more strongly-worded
      experts' report wasn't formally incorporated in
      the final declaration, it would be forwarded to
      the U.N.

       But Graca Machel, the honorary co-chair of the
       conference and a leading children's rights
       advocate from Mozambique, said she was
       disappointed by the timid wording of the
       ministerial statement.

      ``We are not negotiating words, we are dealing
         with human lives,'' Machel said.

See also Full Story included below #5 for further remarks from
Graca Machel who blasted governments for turning a blind eye        
in this matter and called for an imperative and progressive
range of  measures, treaties, policies, decisions and funding to deal
with the plight of   War-Affected children.

All the best,
janet eaton


The Toronto Star
Top Stories in World news Section
September 18, 2000

1] Hope for child soldiers

WINNIPEG - Canada helped broker a deal yesterday for the gradual
release of abducted child soldiers being held by the notorious
Lord's Resistance Army in southern Sudan.

[Full story]


2] `It's a horrible feeling to be afraid all the time'

WINNIPEG - As a little girl, Secret Cummings watched in terror as a
man was killed in front of her, his stomach ripped open and his
insides torn out on the streets of Monrovia, Liberia.

In northern Iraq, Ewar Barzanji, 17, fled her home in a Kurdish
community more than once, crossing war zones and stepping over
mangled corpses, one an old man whose eyes had been pulled from their

Ehab Nessrawi, 18, was injured by a rubber bullet during the
intifadah, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in his
native Gaza.

All three share the experience of childhood scarred by conflict, and
were among 50 youth delegates at the International Conference on
War-Affected Children that concluded yesterday.

[Full story]                  


3] Dallaire heading back to war zones as an adviser

WINNIPEG - Retired Canadian Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire is going back
into the world's war zones, this time as a watchdog to monitor
whether Canada is keeping its promises to help war-affected children.

International Co-operation Minister Maria Minna used the
Canadian-backed  conference on war-affected children to announce     
 she had appointed Dallaire as a special adviser, to be her          
``eyes and ears on the ground.''

[Full story]


4] Children in war: The world awakes

WINNIPEG - Governments are starting to wake up to the crying need to
protect kids from the horrors of war, Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd
Axworthy says.

And it is not only activists who are getting impatient for more
progress in protecting children, he said yesterday.

`The most dramatic part of that awakening is the realization that
increasingly it is the security of individuals which is at the centre
of the international agenda, not the security of nation states.'
             --- Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworth

[Full story]


5] Youth delegates make moving call for action to stop war
Conference also hears impassioned pleas from Graca Machel, Axworthy

WINNIPEG - Young people touched by war had a blunt message yesterday
for cabinet ministers from around the world who joined the
international conference on war-affected children.

[Full story - See immediately below ]]

The Toronto Star World Story  
 September 17, 2000

Youth delegates make moving call for action to stop war

Conference also hears impassioned pleas from Graca Machel,

By Allan Thompson Toronto Star Ottawa Bureau

WINNIPEG - Young people touched by war had a blunt                 
 message yesterday for cabinet ministers from around the world who
joined the international conference on war-affected children.

Grow up.

The clarion call for serious action by the adults who run the world
was stated most clearly by youth  delegate Florian Bizindavyi, who
has endured seven  years of conflict in the tiny African country of  

``How do I explain to you, or make you understand, how hard it is to
live in perpetual terror, every day?'' the 18-year-old told the
opening ceremony for yesterday's ministerial session, attended by
ministers and ambassadors from more than 60 countries.

``I was lucky not to lose my parents, or siblings, but I can't forget
my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my friends, who were massacred,'' he

``Why should we be the martyrs of these stupid, ridiculous
conflicts?'' he asked.

The cabinet ministers yesterday joined the gathering that began a
week ago and has included several days of youth sessions and expert

It is to wrap up today with publication of an agenda for action.

But activists fear the document will stick to generalities, rather
than obliging governments to take action. The draft agenda in
circulation is a much tamer document than the one put out by the panel
of experts who met here earlier this week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who spearheaded the
conference as part of his human security agenda, made an urgent plea
to his fellow ministers for concerted action.

``It's crucial that we take the actions to fulfill the hopes of those
children who have spoken so eloquently and effectively this week,''
Axworthy said.

He repeated his call for a campaign to ratify the International
Criminal Court and new rules banning the use of child soldiers, in
time for next year's U.N. special session on children.

The assembled ministers were also scolded by Graca Machel, the
Mozambican children's rights advocate who authored a landmark U.N.
report in 1996 on the impact of war on children, and came to the
conference to deliver an update on her findings.

`How do I explain to you, or make you understand, how hard it is to
live in perpetual terror, every day? . . . Why should we be the
martyrs of these stupid, ridiculous conflicts?' - Florian Bizindavyi
Youth delegate to International Conference on War-Affected Children

Machel blasted governments for turning a blind eye                
to the plight of children.

``We can't continue to sacrifice our children and continue to say, in
our political discussions, `We'll take all measures to protect them,'
and then go home and make blind eyes.

``I'm speaking because I'm a mother. You are also mothers and
parents . . . Imagine if your children of 7, 10, 12 would be in the
position of these poor children who are in the field with arms.

``You wouldn't sleep. You would remove everything to get your child
back home. The problem with our politicians is we look at those
children as other people's children, not our children.''

Machel, a former cabinet minister in Mozambique, is the widow of
former Mozambican president Samora Machel and is now married to South
African statesman Nelson Mandela.

She called for:

Legal measures banning the use of child soldiers.

Increased funding to combat HIV/AIDS, a disease that is intertwined
with conflict and afflicts millions of children.

An end to the use of comprehensive sanctions that inevitably hurt
children, and a switch to more targeted sanctions such as travel bans,
which hurt leaders.

A treaty controlling the transfer of small arms, which are the real
weapon of ``mass destruction'' and kill more kids than they protect.

A decision about which U.N. agency should take primary responsibility
for people displaced by war, many of whom are children.

An end to the double standard in emergency relief budgets that saw
war-affected children in Africa receive a fraction of the aid
channelled to child victims in Kosovo.

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