Vatican aide tells UN familes key for children victimized by armed conflict

(Photo: REUTERS / Keith Bedford)Members of the United Nations Security Council raise their hands as they vote unanimously to approve a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal during a Security Council meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 27, 2013.

A top official from the Holy See has urged the U.N. Security Council to "affirm and support families of children who are victimized in armed conflict" in a special debate on Children and Armed Conflict.

The chargé d'affaires of the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in New York, Monsignor Simon Kassas spoke on behalf of the Catholic Church, Vatican Radio reports.

"The year 2014 was described as the worst year for children affected by armed conflict.

But as the Secretary-General's Report on Children and Armed Conflict covering the year 2015 illustrates, the 2014 horror-list has been surpassed by the number of children caught in armed conflicts and the scale and severity of violations in 2015," the Holy See official said.

The Catholic Church has constantly advocated the role of families in the prevention of child victimization in armed conflict zones and in the reintegration of children into society, he said.

Families "must be assisted in overcoming prejudices against child survivors of armed conflicts, in particular against women and girls who are victims of rape, and in welcoming back children into the family fold," he asserted.

Kassas noted that while the reintegration of child survivors "into society requires that we recognize the atrocities they may have committed, we must also build pathways for counseling and reconciliation with a view to accomplishing fully that reintegration."

During the U.N. Security Council's Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict Kassas also affirmed the Catholic Church's role in the cessation of violence against children caught in armed conflict.

"The Holy See has been a constant partner of the United Nations in opposing not only the use of children as combatants, but the many other forms of violence against children caught in armed conflict.

"Through its various structures operating in most of the conflict zones, the Catholic Church is actively engaged in taking care of the victims of such violence.

"Over the years, Holy See structures and numerous Catholic institutions have collaborated with U.N. Peacekeeping Missions and Agencies to help alleviate the sufferings of children in armed conflict and to share best practices to address this ongoing scourge."

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