South Sudan

UNMISS “children not soldiers” campaign encourages South Sudan army to protect children in Pibor

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MACH SAMUEL ADUT

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army brigade based in the troubled town of Pibor has committed to protecting children caught up in the armed conflict that has raged across the country for four years.

Brigade 23 has pledged to protect children against six specific grave violations including recruitment and use of children in the armed forces, killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, attacks against schools and hospital, abduction of children and denial of humanitarian access.

Their commitment comes in response to a “children not soldiers” campaign and training session organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan child protection team in Jonglei.

The ongoing civil war in the country has resulted in many children being recruited by armed groups.

The Commander of Brigade 23, Brigadier General Korok Nyal, said the South Sudan government should start the process of disarming youth and rehabilitating roads to enhance child protection through enabling robust patrols.

“The first thing that should be done is that the youth in this region should be disarmed,” he said.

Acknowledging that armed forces continue to recruit children into their ranks, the Commander reminded his colleagues that children belong in classrooms, not the army barracks.

“The issue of recruiting of children into the army or into armed groups has been a problem and it is continuing,” said Brigadier General Korok Nyal. “Children are supposed to be in school at these early ages, but because of all the problems, children are being forced to join the military. In the SPLA, in general, we are not recruiting children.”

The 50 participants involved in the training session were reminded that international, regional and domestic laws protect children against any harm.

“It is really about ensuring, that the perpetration of six grave violations stop, including stopping killing and maiming of children, which is a direct result of conflict and the indiscriminate use of weapons,” said UNMISS child protection officer, Rebecca Corn.