Conclusions of the Conference “Child victims of the Gulf’s proxy wars in the Middle East”

21 Nov, 2019 | Press Releases

Brussels – Rome – New York, 21 November 2019

On 19 November 2019, the Honourable Ilhan Kyuchyuk, of the Renew Europe group, hosted a conference entitled “Child Victims of the Gulf’s Proxy Wars in the Middle East” at the European Parliament. The conference was co-organised by No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by every country in the world but one, namely the United States of America.

Speakers included: Radhya Almutawakel, Yemeni human rights defender from Mwatana; Laura Silvia Battaglia, a reporter from Yemen; Tarek Megerisi, Libyan political analyst for the European Council on Foreign Relations; Albane De Rochebrune, adviser to the Egyptian Institute for Political and Strategic Studies; and Stefano Marcuzzi, researcher at the Carnegie Endowment, with Niccolò Figà-Talamanca, Secretary-General of NPWJ, serving as moderator. Sajeda Alsharif, a teenage Libyan peace activist, sent a video message to the European Parliament, denouncing the insecure conditions of young students in Libya due to the drone attacks.

The conference focused on the devastating consequences, particularly for children, of the proxy wars in the Middle East in countries such as Yemen, Libya and Egypt. It also condemned the support for warring parties by third countries like Saudi Arabia and the (UAE) that have helped to prolong these conflicts and highlighted a call for an end to arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE by European States.

Speakers touched on the following important elements of the Gulf’s proxy wars in the Middle East. The Saudi-UAE coalition strikes are targeting children in schools, in hospitals, in streets and their own houses. The Saudi-UAE coalition is also responsible for child trafficking and the conscription, enlistment or use of child soldiers in Yemen. In the last three years, 85,000 young people died from starvation.  The external powers – Saudi Arabia and UAE on one side and Iran on the other – have huge responsibilities. If they wanted to, they could end the war immediately. In Libya, the UAE is complicit with General Khalifa Haftar in war crimes, as demonstrated by the UN investigation on the July 2019 bombardment of a migrant centre that killed 53 migrants and injured 130 people. In Egypt, since General Abdel Fatah Al Sisi came to power, hundreds of children have been detained, tortured, been sentenced to life imprisonment and, in some cases, even sentenced to the death penalty. All of these actions violate several fundamental rights of the child that are secured by the CRC: as States Parties, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE should be held to account for those violations.

The conclusions of the conference highlighted the following points:
1)      The weapons trade to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia by European powers must cease.
2)      Crimes against civilians, in particular against children, need to be investigated and there needs to be full accountability for those crimes.
3)      Europe needs to stand up to the UAE and Egypt in Libya, through legal and political means, to ensure compliance with the UN Security Council-mandated arms embargo.
4)      European Union sanctions, including in respect of visas, must be applied to businessmen and politicians responsible for crimes against civilians.
5)      The European Parliament must acknowledge these violations and set a serious challenge to each country to be accountable for their actions.

Link to the livecast of the event:

Press review:

For further information, please contact Susan Dabbous, EU Advocacy Coordinator, No Peace Without Justice, email: