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C 110 E/104 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.


(2003/C 110 E/106) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2789/02

by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(4 October 2002)

Subject: Child soldiers

According to a recent Unicef report, more than 300 000 children are serving as soldiers in government
forces and paramilitary and rebel units in a total of 33 armed conflicts throughout the world. Furthermore,
the involvement of children in military conflicts has increased over the last few years by between 30 % and
45 %. In particular 120 000 children are fighting in Africa, while in the ten-year period from 1985 to
1995 an estimated two million children were killed in wars, four million suffered physical disabilities and
more than ten million suffered from psychological traumas.

Given the gravity of this matter, could the Commission state what measures the EU intends to take to put
an end to the phenomenon of the involvement of minors in armed conflicts and civil wars? Is the
Commission considering the possibility of launching an initiative to ensure that all EU Member States and
the States Parties of the UN ratify the supplementary Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child
on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict which has been signed by 110 countries but has not so
far been ratified?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(15 November 2002)

The Commission notes that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict has in fact entered into force on 12 February 2002 (with
recent information indicating that 111 countries have signed the instrument and 42 have ratified it). As
regards ratification by Member States, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Austria and Finland have already
ratified the Optional Protocol. The Union has repeatedly emphasised its support for the Optional Protocol,
most recently in the Third Committee of the 57th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly
currently being held in New York. In its statement on the Rights of the Child, the Union urged all States
which have not done so to ratify and implement the Optional Protocol and also expressed support for the
work of the Special Representative, Mr Otunnu, in this field.

It is also worth noting that the Plan of Action adopted at the UN Special Session on Children in May 2002
includes commitments relating to childen and armed conflict.

As regards addressing this issue through Community funding, the Commission channels concrete support
to children affected by armed conflict through several funding initiatives. Children are a cross-cutting
priority for humanitarian assistance delivered through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO). This
commitment is reflected in ECHO’s strategy and in concrete projects, advocacy work inside the
Community and in research aimed at improving the international humanitarian response.

In the field ECHO pays special attention to protecting and assisting children. Building on standards,
obligations and principles spelled out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, specific projects on
humanitarian assistance for conflict-affected children were supported throughout 2001 and 2002
(examples include: demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration projects, health and nutrition projects
(Sudan, Colombia, Palestine, Afghanistan), psychosocial support (Sierra Leone, Sudan, West Bank, Gaza
Strip and Lebanon), the funding of schools in emergency camps for displaced persons (Democratic
Republic of Congo, Sudan, Sierra Leone), family tracing and reunification (Colombia), etc.

At policy level, ECHO funded research activities. As for advocacy, ECHO produced brochures, funded
photographic exhibitions and jointly organised and participated in Conferences on the plight of child
soldiers. Furthermore, ECHO is working on a new initiative on data collection as the lack of reliable data is
8.5.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/105

detrimental to the international advocacy efforts and it is also a major obstacle to improving humanitarian
response. The project will be led by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef).

These efforts form an integral part of the promotion and protection of human rights within humanitarian
operations as well as in linking relief, rehabilitation and development.

Under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (Chapter B7-7) for 2000, support has
included funding for a project undertaken by Unicef in Sierra Leone regarding the protection and
reintegration of children associated with the fighting forces and other children separated from their
families as a result of the conflict. In addition, under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human
Rights (EIDHR) budget for 2001 a project aimed at the social re-integration of young ex-combatants is
being implemented by AFMAL (1) and Caritas Makemi. A project in favour of children victims of war,
implemented in Ethiopia and Angola by Alisei (2), ended recently.

As regards awareness-raising the EIDHR is funding the Earth Action project: ‘The Convention on the
Rights of the Child. Building global support for implementation’. The overall project objective is to educate
and raise awareness of civil society and to promote the rights of the child, including those of child soldiers
and homeless children, by informing citizen groups, member of parliaments, other influential individuals,
journalists and young people. Children’s Rights will be mainstreamed in all the actions implemented by the
EIDHR over the period 2002-2004, including action for conflict prevention and dealing with its

(1) Associazione con i Fatebenefratelli per i Malati Lontani.

(2) Associazione per la cooperazione internazionale e l’aiuto umanitario.

(2003/C 110 E/107) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2795/02

by Jan Dhaene (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(4 October 2002)

Subject: European Mobility Week and the International Car Free Day

On 22 September 2002, International Car Free Day was held in 1300 European towns and municipalities.
This one-day campaign formed part of European Mobility Week. The project has not yet been evaluated,
but it is clear from the media and from the reactions of various people involved that this initiative was a
great success. The whole of the Brussels Region, for example, was made car-free. This was widely
applauded and met with little opposition.

Can the Commission answer the following:

 What will the Commission do with the evaluation which is being made of this European campaign

 How much do European Mobility Week and the International Car Free Day cost the Commission?

 Will the Commission increase this amount in future?

 Will the Commission widen the campaign concept and organise a European car-free week or more
frequent car-free days (once every month or three months)?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(11 November 2002)

The 2002 European Car Free Day and European Mobility Week is being evaluated and discussed with the
representatives of the Member States, networks of local authorities, non-governmental organisations and
the European associations which are supporting and developing this initiative with the Commission.