Army committed to stop recruitment of children
By: Kitab A Unango
The government and child protection partners have committed themselves to stop the recruitment and use of children in the army.
Since the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in August 2018 to end the conflict in South Sudan, the government and UN partners including UNMISS and UNICEF have disarmed more than 1500 children from the armed groups.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict signed on February 12, 2002, bans and incriminates the use of any person under 18 as a solider.
However, according to the National Demonization, Disarmament and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC), there is unconfirmed number of more than 19, 000 child soldiers associated with armed forces and groups across the country.
Speaking during the Red Hand Day celebration in Juba to advocate for an end to recruitments of children into armed forces and armed groups yesterday, Chief for Training in SSPDF, Maj. General Michael Majur Aleer said the army was already putting measurers to stop children from joining the army.
“We want to repeat ourselves many times that we accept the principle of no use of child soldiers. We do not need children, we will see into it that no child comes to our positions,” he said.
Regina Joseph Kaba, the Acting Chairperson of NDDRC said South Sudan as one of the countries using child solders needed to clear its name from the list this year.
“As you all know that, South Sudan is in the list of those who use children as soldiers and we as South Sudanese will be proud if our name is removed out of that list,” Regina said.
The event was attended by SSPDF Chief Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak, Police Inspector, Gen. Majak Akec and other generals who all pledged their support by handprints, vowing to a child recruitment into armed forces.
Ndangarino Moyo, UNICEF Child Protection Specialists called on the people of South Sudan to join hands and put an end to child soldiers.
She said the protracted conflict in South Sudan has compelled parties to abduct and forcefully use children as child soldiers which is considered a crime against children under international law.
“Despite the worldwide ban, instability, armed conflict and wars and ongoing violence continue to lead to the recruitment and use of hundreds of children as child soldiers,” Moyo said.
Last year over 900 child soldiers were released in former western Equatoria State and hundreds of them were also released from Northern Bahr El Ghazal associated with the Paul Malong, former army chief.