I share your concerns about the millions of children across the world who are subjected to violence and abuse. The UK supports efforts to end all forms of violence against children through our humanitarian and development programmes.
Many of the Department for International Development's (DFID) programmes help to protect children from violence. DFID works with mandated child protection agencies including UNICEF in conflict-affected countries to assist and protect children. In Syria, Iraq, and the wider region the UK has pledged more than £800 million to help those affected by conflict, including vulnerable children. Through the No Lost Generation Initiative, the UK is funding education and psychosocial support for Syrian children to protect them from violence, abuse and exploitation.
The UK has a close working relationship with UNICEF. The Development Secretary recently met with UNICEF UK's Ambassador, Michael Sheen, to discuss the campaign, and how we can work together to ensure vulnerable groups are protected. In 2013, the UK was the largest government donor to UNICEF, with a combined contribution of nearly £375 million. UNICEF plays a vital role in delivering projects in a number of challenging environments, such as the Middle East and ebola-affected countries. I am delighted the UK is supporting UNICEF's new child protection fund, announced last December, to combat the online sexual exploitation of children.
The Heads of Government will meet at the UN General Assembly in September to agree the Sustainable Development Goals. The UK strongly supports goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies, which has a specific target on ending all forms of violence against children. Ministers are also continuing to push for a standalone goal on gender equality with a target on violence against women and girls, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage.
I am proud of the work the UK is leading on protecting vulnerable children.