The role of children in armed conflicts has always been condemned all over the world, and the Arab region -- with its turmoil and spring of revolutions -- is not an exception.
In spite of all international conventions adopted and ratified by most of the Arab governments, children have a strong presence in the streets, in the protests as well as in actual armed conflicts.
The last pictures from Lebanon, after the assassination of the police intelligence chief General Wessam al-Hassan, showed clearly that children between 8 and 16, were directly involved in burning tires, with all the associated risk to their health and wellbeing.
The live coverage of these incidents, and the pictures broadcast to the world, put in question the measures taken by the Lebanese authorities to put an end to the usage of children in armed conflicts, either as tire burners or as actual fighters, with real examples boasting of their role as fighters in Tripoli, north of Lebanon.
With the new call for national dialogue, the president is urged to ask all parties involved in the conflict, to refrain from using children in the streets, under any circumstances, especially that some security experts fear that this usage is done on purpose to create chaos in the streets and embarrass security forcing from attacking “small kids” when they decide to eliminated the burned tires and clear the streets.
Even if it looks impossible to call for national reconciliation in Lebanon, it is imperative that all conflicting groups reach an ethical pledge to take these kids off the streets, as these kids are the real future of Lebanon, all of them, and if we aspire for a healthy country, we all need healthy kids, physically, emotionally and psychologically, which is not a benefit you can expect in the streets of hatred and burned tires.
(Issam Azouri is a Lebanese communication advisor to U.N. agencies and NGOs in Lebanon and the GCC.)