Sudan

Sudan: Peace Process Presents Opportunity to Better Protect Children as Grave Violations Continue

Sixth Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in the Sudan

Despite substantial progress in ending the recruitment and use of children by parties to conflict, including Government forces, boys and girls in the Sudan continued to endure the dramatic effects of conflict-related violence, highlighted the sixth report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) in the Sudan.

A total of 734 grave violations against children were verified in Darfur, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei Area between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2019, the most prevalent being the killing and maiming of children (469). Overall, four children were verified as recruited or used by the Sudan Liberation Army/ Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW).

“The successful completion of the Action Plan with the United Nations by the Sudanese Armed Forces that led to their delisting for the recruitment and use of children in 2018 marked an important step for the protection of children in the Sudan,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba. “It is positive that the institutional mechanisms established by the Action Plan remain in place and continue to be the framework of cooperation between the Sudanese authorities and the UN to prevent violations.”

“Nonetheless, efforts to better protect children must continue and I call for the translation of the gains of the completed Action Plan into a national prevention plan to prevent all six grave violations against children, particularly in this political transition period.” She further expressed concerns over the allegations of recruitment and use of children by listed armed groups and the Rapid Security Forces (RSF) and called for their investigation, in cooperation with the United Nations.

While hostilities between Government forces and armed groups decreased in most parts of Darfur in the period under review, intercommunal violence continued and led to widespread violations including killing and maiming, sexual violence and attacks on schools. Explosive remnants of war (ERW) also continued to significantly affect children in Darfur, accounting for a third of casualties. Some 31 attacks on schools (20) and hospitals (11) were verified, many of which were attributed to Government forces.

Access constraints hampered the verification of violations and the majority (405) could not be attributed to any party. However, when parties could be identified, Government security forces were found responsible for more than a third of all violations.

In late 2019, the Government allowed humanitarian access to all areas of the country, some for the first time in many years, opening the door for increased engagement with armed groups and monitoring of violations.

“I welcome this opportunity to renew the United Nations’ engagement with armed groups on issues related to children and armed conflict,” said Virginia Gamba. “I call on all listed parties in the annexes of the Secretary-General report on CAAC to engage with the UN to develop Action Plans or to fully implement existing ones to end and prevent grave violations”.

Incidents of sexual violence remained one of the most worrisome patterns of violations with 173 cases verified despite being vastly underreported for fear of stigma, retaliation, lack of accountability for perpetrators and lack of resources and services for survivors. Almost a third of the incidents were attributed to Government forces. The Special Representative called on the Government of the Sudan to ensure accountability for all perpetrators of grave violations, including sexual violence, and welcomed the adoption of the Framework of Cooperation with the United Nations to address conflict-related sexual violence signed in March 2020.

Seizing Opportunities to Better Protect Children

“Sudan has undergone a series of political changes in recent months which have led to renewed opportunities to protect children,” said Virginia Gamba. “The Juba peace process represents an opportunity to sustainably address the grievances of children affected by years of armed conflict in the Sudan. We must seize this opportunity to deliver a peaceful future for the children of the Sudan.”

However, political instability has also led to violence affecting children. The excessive use of force employed by Government security forces during public demonstrations also negatively impacted children. The Special Representative urged Government forces to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force against civilians, including children, engaging in peaceful protests.

The recent establishment on 4 June 2020 of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) by the Security Council also provides a strong opportunity for engagement of the United Nations in support of the Government of the Sudan. The Special Representative encouraged all parties to continue to engage with the United Nations, including through UNITAMS, and to focus on grave violations against children in the areas of concern, with a “whole of Sudan” approach.

Furthermore, the Special Representative highlighted that the peace process must recognize the protection of children as part of sustainable peace and make use of the Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict launched by her Office in February 2020. “I call on all parties engaged in the peace process to reflect the needs and rights of children in the current dialogue, including provisions on the release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups,” she said.

Read the full report

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Key numbers from January 2017 to December 2019

Recruitment and use of children: 4 children

Killing and maiming of children: 469 children

Rape and other forms of sexual violence: 173 children

Abductions: 53 children

Attacks against schools and hospitals: 31 attacks

Denial of humanitarian access: 4 incidents verified but monitoring in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile was constrained due to the continued denial of access

Detention of children: 4 children detained for their alleged association with armed groups

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Listed parties in the annexes of the 2020 Secretary-General Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict

List A: Listed parties that have not put in place measures to improve the protection of children

  • Justice and Equality Movement (Recruitment and Use of Children)
  • Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (Recruitment and Use of Children)
  • Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (Recruitment and Use of Children)
  • Sudan People’s Liberation Movement / North (Recruitment and Use of Children)

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For additional information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / vinet@un.org