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UNICEF welcomes the release of children associated to armed forces

At a formal ceremony in Rumbek on Friday, seven children associated with armed forces were released. The boys ranging in age from 13-17 years were released in Lakes State.

The recruitment and use of children is prohibited by the South Sudan domestic legislation (Labour Act (2017), Transitional Constitution with its Amendments (2011/ 2018), Penal Code Act (2008), and Child Act (2018)) and international treaties that the country has signed, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.

The release was supported by UNICEF, UNMISS, the Ministry of Gender Child and Social Welfare and the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission and other partners including Save the Children and Plan International.

The process was done few months after the Government extended the implementation period for the Comprehensive Action Plan to end all six grave violations against children up to 7 August 2022 which was a positive indicator for determination to fulfil the commitment to protect all children from the effects of armed conflict.

The official discharge followed a three-day workshop conducted in May 2021 by the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR), UNICEF and UNMISS in Rumbek.

The workshop was attended by 16 members of the Security Forces, five officials from the line Ministries and a Member from the Lakes State Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (DDRC).

The Comprehensive Action Plan was signed on 7th February 2020 and was the most comprehensive plan signed globally since the creation of the programme by the United Nations for the Children and Armed Conflict mandate.

To date, two Nationals and 11 States level action plan implementation committees had been established with the support of UNICEF and UNMISS.

“The release of these children today demonstrates the commitment of authorities to ensure that the rights of children are respected. It fills me with hope. This is an opportunity for everyone across the country to work together to ensure that all children who are in the barracks are released,” said Hamida.

Participants at the event for the release of children in Rumbek included the State Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, National and State-Level Representatives from the Armed Forces, Officials from the National Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, Save the Children, Plan International, UNMISS and UNICEF.

The Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in Lakes State had provided a transit space to accommodate the children upon the release. Meanwhile, Child Protection partners have begun case management processes to ensure that all the seven children were reunified with their families in the shortest time possible so that other components of social reintegration could be conducted while the children are settled at home.

With support from donors, UNICEF was mobilizing resources to provide livelihood and economic reintegration for these seven children in the coming months.

 Reintegration is a long-term process to enable children to transition from military to civilian life and is implemented within a timeframe of three years.

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