Government officials in Upper Nile State sensitized on child rights
“I have learned a lot about issues related to the welfare of children and also the six grave violations of child rights,” said Major Kot Malong.
Major Malong was one of 30 participants at an UNMISS-facilitated training in Malakal on protecting children caught in armed conflict.
Organized by the mission’s Child Protection Division, the main aim of the sensitization session: To bring together representatives from across the state government and related institutions, educate them on the importance of upholding the rights of minors and ensure they trickle down their learning through their ranks.
For Major Malong, the information disseminated during this two-day workshop was an eyeopener. “I was nominated by my Division Commander to attend this training and it’s the first time I have actually heard about how to ensure our children are protected at all times. I will make sure I pass on this knowledge to all my colleagues so that we are all on the same page,” he stated.
Another participant, Wai Awon Ajak, Director-General, Local Government and Law Enforcement, was also appreciative of the efforts made by UNMISS in protecting children’s rights. “Our children are our future and we must do everything we can to make sure they are not affected by conflict,” said Mr Ajak. “This workshop is beneficial because it has educated us on the international laws that exist to protect our children,” he added.
Kweku Bassaw, head of the mission’s Child Protection arm in Malakal explains that these workshops are part of UNMISS’ ongoing efforts to protect civilians and pave the way for a durable peace in this young nation.
“In 2020, a Comprehensive Action Plan was signed by all parties to ensure that children remain safe and protected in times of conflict,” he says. “Our engagements with national stakeholders have been ongoing when it comes to children’s rights which is a critical step for sustainable peace to prevail across South Sudan.
For his part, Deputy Governor of Upper Nile State, James Tor Monybouny, reaffirmed his government’s commitment to protecting children.
“Our responsibility as a government is to ensure that our children are given maximum protection. This is one of our core duties as government representatives,” he said.
According to Leda Limann, Head of the mission’s Field Office in Malakal, there is a cogent need to raise awareness among rural communities on child protection.
“Since 2011 UNMISS has been making effort to address issues affecting children in the Republic of South Sudan, working with the government and other parties to the conflict,” Said Limann. “However, the current situation calls for more child protection awareness, not only for soldiers who may commit violations but also for local authorities who are equally responsible.”