Action plan to end violations against children in Eastern Equatoria reviewed during an UNMISS workshop
A two-day refresher course for child protection officers in Torit, Eastern Equatoria, organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), reviewed the gaps in implementing the action plan to end grave violations against children during armed conflict.
“Children are a vulnerable, yet important, part of society; in fact, the fate of the country rests on their shoulders as they are future leaders. We must, therefore, protect them and promote their wellbeing and development,” said Camila Tortoriello, an UNMISS Child Protection Officer at the workshop.
The recently concluded programme was attended by 30 members of the State Technical Committee for child protection; personnel from the local police and prison services; relevant state ministries and civil society organizations.
“As ambassadors of the child rights agenda, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that children across the state are protected from any violence, including armed conflict” said Brigadier General Kasimiro Okomos Gaitano, the state’s Deputy Police Commissioner.
The forum deliberated on recommendations for implementing the action plan and tabled certain challenges for discussion.
“Insecurity in areas slated for monitoring of violations, for instance, is a major source of concern for the State Technical Committee. This must be addressed before activities can kick off,” said Ojok Francis, an officer from Eastern Equatoria’s Child, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Department.
“We need to cooperate with the state government, as well as with partners like UNMISS and UNICEF, to work towards removing South Sudan from the list of child rights violators, included in the annexes of pertinent reports of the UN Secretary-General,” said Oringa John Baptiste, Chairman of the State Technical Committee.
“We also urge the national government to respond to our call for budgetary allocation so that we can begin implementing the action plan in earnest,” revealed Dominica Idwa, Director-General, State Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare. “Delays are generally because of a lack of funds.”
At the end of the forum, participants advanced several recommendations for a way forward including sensitizing schools, parents, and children on the importance of reporting violations; timely reporting of any abuse against minors to allow quick intervention; and continued monitoring and evaluation of progress made in upholding child rights across the state.