United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

Children are disproportionately affected by armed conflict. In South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, the exultation that permeated the air in 2011 when it declared independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan, was soon wiped out by civil wars and conflict.

One of the ways in which violence impacted children was their recruitment and use as child soldiers.

To mark International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) ran a comprehensive workshop for 120 soldiers from the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF)

The main aim: To raise awareness about child rights and the obligation of all military personnel to adhere to the Comprehensive Action Plan to end all forms of child abuse, which was signed in February 2020.

Brigadier Magok Achuoth, Commander of the SSPDF Division Three in Kuajok noted that such sensitization sessions were critical for his subordinate officers.

“I attended a similar workshop in Juba and I made it a point to trickle down the knowledge I had gained through our ranks,” said the Brigadier. “However, there is no substitute for in-person guidance and I am very glad that everybody serving in my Division has got the opportunity to participate in these important sessions today. I hope UNMISS will continue providing us such useful trainings.”

For his part Temrol Deng, State Director, National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC), assured participants that more workshops will take place in future. Mr Deng cited difficulties faced by all stakeholders during the rainy season and emphasized the Commission’s intention to reach all six counties within Warrap state before the rains begin this year.

The NDDRC is one of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s partners in hosting this sensitization session through its state-level technical committee, together with the state Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare.

Joseph Deng, a Child Protection Officer with UNMISS emphasized that while all stakeholders are doing their best to ensure that no underage combatants remain across South Sudan, the primary responsibility for protecting children lies with the government.

“We are here to help you, to help the Government of South Sudan, ensure that no child ever has to bear arms again. We must all commit to protecting the rights of every child so that this young nation can truly build a durable peace,” he stated.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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