The United Nations welcomes the release of 21 child soldiers by the Government of Sudan

 

The United Nations welcomes the release of 21 child soldiers by the Government of Sudan

On 21 March, children queue to hand over their weapons and uniforms during a ceremony formalizing their release from the South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) Cobra Faction armed group, in the remote village of Lekuangole, in Jonglei State.

On 21 March 2015 in South Sudan, up to 250 children – including four girls, one as young as 9 – were released today from the South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA) Cobra Faction armed group. Another 400 are being released over the next two days. The release happened in the remote village of Lekuangole, in Jonglei State. It is the third release of children following a peace deal between the Faction and the Government. The Government’s National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC) and UNICEF are working together to care for the children and reintegrate them in their communities. The Cobra Faction has advised UNICEF that they have up to 3,000 children in their armed group. In a ceremony led by the NDDRC formalizing the children’s release, the children exchanged their weapons and uniforms for civilian clothing. UNICEF then took responsibility for looking after the children at an interim care centre in the village, where they are being provided with food, shelter and medical care. UNICEF and partners will begin the process of tracing their families and, where necessary, providing psychosocial support.

© UNICEF/UNI181541/McKeever

KHARTOUM/HONG KONG, 22 September 2016 – The United Nations welcomes the release yesterday by the Government of Sudan of twenty one children allegedly associated with armed groups.  These children, who have been in the custody of the government security forces, were captured during fighting between the Government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur, in 2015.

“It is with great joy that we receive the announcement of the release of these children. This action is a clear result of the Government’s determination towards the protection of children who are affected by conflict in the country. The United Nations would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its full support to the Government in promoting and protecting children’s rights in Sudan, including in areas of armed conflict”, says Ms. Marta Ruedas, the UN Resident Coordinator

The UN regards the release of this group as an important milestone towards the implementation of the Action Plan signed between the United Nations and the Government of Sudan on 27 March 2016. The document aims to contribute to the overall protection of children affected by armed conflict in Sudan and specifically to the protection against and prevention of their recruitment and use, as well as to the release, reintegration and rehabilitation of children.

“Sudanese children cannot continue to be robbed of their future. No child should take part in hostilities. Children should be in school and with their families.  I welcome the release of these children as a significant gesture and once again appeal to all the parties associated with armed conflict to stop the recruitment of child soldiers,” says Joint Special Representative Martin Uhomoibhi, Head of UNAMID.

The children will be housed in a government transit centre where they will receive psychosocial and other support that would enable successful reintegration into their families and communities.  The UN is working closely with the government’s National Council for Child Welfare to assist this process.

“Today is truly a remarkable day! This release is a reflection of our collective commitment to the Action Plan for the protection of all children in conflict. Their reunification with their families and their reintegration into society will be a major milestone in the realization and preservation of children’s rights and childhood. We will exert all efforts to support the government and its relevant institutions to reintegrate these children”, says Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Sudan Country Representative.

The successful reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups into their communities remains a very important goal for the United Nations and other partners in Sudan.