The phenomenon of recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts is considered as a humanitarian catastrophe
by all standards as the international community with all its organizations and laws stands unable to confront it. This practice which kills the innocence among children and changes them into criminals and killers has many victims in the world.
Sudan is one of the countries that suffer from recruitment of children by the armed movements, especially in the areas of Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains and Darfur, where the number of those who are forcibly taken and recruited in the ranks of the armed movements stands at least 2,000 children.
A report issued by the United Nations Secretary General in March 2017 said the rate of recruitment of children for fighting in parts of Sudan retreated, but they were still being killed and injured, saying that 1300 children in South Kordofan and Darfur were killed or disfigured by the armed movements and the SPLM-N.
An international official on children and armed conflict has expressed satisfaction at the progress made by the Government of Sudan in implementation of the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, referring to ending recruitment of 2500 children and their demobilization during the last three years.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba said during her visit to Khartoum last month that the Sudanese Government has made progress in the implementation of the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict signed in March 2016 by the Government of Sudan, but noted that more needs to be done to ensure that all children in Sudan are and continue to be protected from violence.
The SRSG has said at the conclusion of her first visit to Sudan that included Darfur and South Kordofan that the engagement of the Sudanese Government on the Action Plan with the United Nations is encouraging, adding she came to Sudan to encourage its government for completion of the plan and urge the parties to provide better opportunities of life for children at conflict area.
She pointed out that she visited the areas that witness recruitment of children and spoke to children who were released, adding that she has found in Khartoum strong political will that exceeds the plan signed with her office and response in advance for the protection of children and preventing their recruitment in the future as part of a national voluntary plan.
Ms. Gamba called on the government to expedite completion of the plan and raising awareness on the rights of children at the areas of conflict.
SRSG Gamba did not disclose the number of child soldiers or those who were demobilized or released after they had been captured in operations, referring the issue to her report which is expected to be issued in July 2018. However, she said the Government of Sudan had demobilized 2500 children in three years, who are being reintegrated.
The international official criticized the armed movements in Darfur who reject signing of the plan for preventing recruitment of children and demobilizing the recruited ones.
She said there are six parties and only two of them have signed the plan that are the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N, while two of the armed movements of Darfur refused to sign the plan and the third one haven’t realize progress in implementation of the plan.
Ms. Gamba pointed out that there are six incidents of violations that still need verifications.
She added that the task force for investigation is attempting to reach the areas controlled by the armed movements.
She expressed her admiration over the progress made by the government, saying that Sudan government has implemented all that is required for stoppage of violations against children.
The Last Betting:
A number of observers see that compulsory recruitment and recruitment of children remain the last betting for the armed movements, pointing out that the armed movements are continuously engage in smuggling children to use them in fighting as well as utilizing them for espionage, and carrying weapons, saying that this would not end except through raising awareness among their relatives on the issue.
Laws and Legislations:
The State Minister at the Ministry of Defense, Gen. Ali Mohamed Salim has reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Sudanese Armed Forces to the international agreements and charters pertinent to the rights and protection of children, referring to the great legislative development that had occurred in the Sudanese Armed Forces Act, that includes a whole chapter on the principles of the International Humanitarian Law.
He said the United Nations has praised the progress realized in the action plan agreement to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, which was signed by Sudan and the UN in March 2016.
The State Minister pointed to the activities being made by the Children Rights Unit at the Sudanese Armed Forces in coordination with the partners to children protection at the national and international levels as it has contributed since its establishment in 2007 to returning of hundreds of children to their relatives from the armed movements besides implementing more than 60 training courses in the field of children rights for more than 3000 personnel of the Armed Forces.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, on her part, praised the efforts of the Armed Forces and its commitment to the Action Plan agreement, affirming that her field visits to a number of states in the country puts the Sudan as a leading country in this field at the regional level.
She called for maintaining the mechanisms of work that have resulted from the experience of implementation of the Action Plan, such as raising the awareness and capacity building programs and promoting the operation plan into a national plan of action for children protection.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General has concluded its first visit to Sudan during which she went to Darfur and South Kordofan and got acquainted with the plan of action of Sudan on protection of children at areas of conflict.
She distanced the government from committing any type of violence against children and at the same time expressed her satisfaction at the progress made by the Government of Sudan in implementation of the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
The international official pointed out that the progress includes the issuance of command orders by all Government security forces and allowing dialogue between the United Nations and non-state armed groups who are also engaged in Action Plans with the United Nations. Access has also allowed for joint UN-Government monitoring and verification missions, and training of security forces in all affected conflict states in 2017, she added.
Ms. Gamba expressed hope that Sudan will soon join Chad, Ivory Coast, Nepal and other countries who have completed their Action Plans and would become a champion of child protection at the regional level.
Ms. Gamba held a series of meetings during her visit to Sudan with officials at the Ministries of Interior and Defense besides Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman.
The international official met with Interior Minister Lt. Gen. (police) Hamid Manan and State Minister at the Ministry of Defense Gen. Ali Mohamed Salim.
The Minister of Interior briefed the SRSG on the state’s plan for children protection and the efforts being exerted for its implementation.
The United Nations’ official, on her part, lauded the progress made by Sudan for the protection of children at areas of armed conflict through implementation of the national plan of action.
Ms. Gamba said “I encourage the Government and people of Sudan to be consistent in their efforts to ensure that everywhere in Sudan, from Blue Nile State to North Darfur, children can be children, play and go to school in an environment free from fear and violence, an environment which allows them to study and dream of a better future.”
The SRSG has also encouraged the Government to speedily complete the missing measures for the completion of its Action Plan, including the final development and the adoption of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the handover of children released from armed groups to civilian actors to allow swift reintegration, the institutionalization of a complaint mechanism for the people and the launching of an awareness campaign on all grave violations against children.
SRSG Gamba commended the work of the Sudan Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR), in particular its Co-Chairs – the Resident Coordinator, UNAMID and UNICEF – for its excellent work in the midst of decreasing resources. She urged the Government to continue to allow access to the UN wherever and whenever violations may occur.
The Sudan Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (16)
UN Report Details Abuses and War Crimes in S. Sudan: Trials Needed to...Next >