Military commanders in Eastern Equatoria recommit to preventing all violations of child rights

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South Sudanese military commanders in Eastern Equatoria renew their pledge to end all violations of child rights at a joint session provided by UNMISS and state authorities on protecting children during armed conflict. Photo by Okello James/UNMISS

25 Oct 2021

Military commanders in Eastern Equatoria recommit to preventing all violations of child rights

Okello James

“Our priority is to provide the needed guidance to our forces so that the six grave violations against children are prevented. As commanders, we are accountable for these violations if we do not guide and control the forces,” said Major General Patrick Osfaldo Ohiti, the commanding officer of the Irube cantonment site in Eastern Equatoria.

Major General Ohiti is one of 25 commanders of the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-iO) who recently recommitted to following the Comprehensive Action Plan to end and prevent the six grave violations of child rights.

These include killing and maiming of children; recruitment or use of children in armed forces and armed groups; attacks on schools or hospitals; rape or other grave sexual abuse; abduction of children; and denial of humanitarian access for children.

Their renewed pledge came during a workshop organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in collaboration with the Eastern Equatorian State Technical Committee on Children associated with Armed Conflict.

“The committee has mapped out areas where massive awareness campaigns will be rolled out for forces located at the cantonment sites and barracks. This is to ensure that parties to the Revitalized Peace Agreement play an active role in protecting children,” averred Oringa John Baptist, the chairperson of the Committee.

Training sessions delivered focused on international humanitarian law and human rights principles, including the rights of women and children in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.

The UN Peacekeeping mission delivers these ongoing trainings because the SPLA-iO is listed by the United Nations Security Council for violating the rights of children, including recruiting and using minors within military ranks as well as, allegedly, killing and abducting them.

“We believe these sessions are crucial to ending violations against children. So, we also plan to follow up trainings with assessment and verification missions to investigate whether information received is applied,” said Camila Tortoriello, a Child Protection Officer working with the UN mission in the State capital, Torit.

UNMISS continues to strengthen its engagement with Eastern Equatoria’s State Technical Committee and Child Protection Task Force to enhance sensitization of forces