UNICEF hails latest child demobilization in Southern Sudan
BENTIU, SOUTHERN SUDAN, 29 April 2010 – UNICEF welcomes the renewed process of demobilization of children associated with armed forces and groups in Southern Sudan marked by the recent demobilization of 91 children associated with the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) in Southern Sudan’s Unity State.
"Our ultimate goal is to demobilize and reunify with their families all children who are still associated with the SPLA in Southern Sudan,” said Mr. Andrew Oluku, the Child DDR Coordinator of the Southern Sudan, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC) - the Southern Sudan authority in charge of the process.
Recently, the SPLA signed an Action Plan with United Nations/UNICEF to release all children associated with it by the end of November 2010. This Action Plan reinforces the commitment made by the SPLA at the time of the signing of the CPA in 2005 to demobilize all children within their ranks. In 2009, with support from UNICEF, the SPLA established Child Protection Units within its ranks and began the process of removing all children from its payroll.
"The release of these children opens a new chapter in their lives - a chapter of hope and opportunity,” said Peter Crowley, the Director of Operations, UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme. “Released from the SPLA, these children can now return home, go to school and develop to their full potentials,” he added.
The children being released today in Koch and Mayom counties near Bentiu, capital of Unity State are from within the SPLA ranks. They are between 13-17 years with some having served in the SPLA for more than three years. Many live nearby and will immediately rejoin their families. Arrangements to transport the other children home are also being made.
UNICEF has supported SSDDRC in establishing sound policies and procedures to release children associated with fighting groups in Southern Sudan, facilitate tracing of their families, ensure sustainable reintegration into their communities and prevent future recruitment.
When the CPA was signed in 2005 approximately 3000 children were associated with the SPLA. It is estimated that there are currently 1060 children who are still part of the SPLA. The majority of these are aged over 15 but some may be as young as 10.
“UNICEF looks forward to a prompt and effective release of children still associated with the SPLA and other armed forces and groups in Southern,” said Mr. Crowley.
UNICEF works with many partners to increase access to education, health, clean water, sanitation and hygiene and a protective environment for all children in Southern Sudan.
The recruitment or use of children under the age of 18 in armed conflict is contrary to international law and contrary to Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The UNICEF role in relation to the demobilization and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and groups in Sudan is stipulated in the peace agreement and forms part of a UN interagency effort including UNDP and UNMIS, the UN peace support mission in Sudan.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
For more information, please contact:
Valentina Rios, Officer-in-charge, Media & External Relations UNICEF Sudan,
Mobile+249 (0) 912174640, Email: [email protected].
Douglas Armour, Communications Manager UNICEF Southern Sudan Area programme, Juba
Mobile+ (256) (0) 477 256 717, + (249) (0) 913 143 481, Email: [email protected].
Swangin Bismarck, Communication officer UNICEF Southern Sudan Area programme, Juba
Mobile: +249(0) 919 261 580, +256(0) 477 103 390: Email:[email protected]