Senior commanders in Ashwa cantonment site call for increased training on the six grave violations against children

unmiss protection of civilians child rights children south sudan child soldiers ashwa child protection united nations peacekeeping peacekeepers

UNMISS, through its Child Protection Section, recently trained some 25 senior commanders of South Sudanese forces in Ashwa, Eastern Equatoria, on upholding the rights of children. Photo by Moses Yakudu/UNMISS.

28 Sep 2021

Senior commanders in Ashwa cantonment site call for increased training on the six grave violations against children

Moses Yakudu

“On behalf of my colleagues, I appeal to UNMISS to come again and sensitize us on how to protect children and the Comprehensive Action Plan,” says Atim Alice Daniels, a woman commander of South Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition in the Ashwa cantonment site.

Ms. Daniels was speaking after a workshop organized by the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Child Protection Section sensitizing senior commanders within the cantonment site on how to end and prevent the six grave violations against children.

These consist of the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, abductions, and the denial of humanitarian access to children in need.

Among the 25 senior commanders who attended the training, five were women officers who were unaware of all violations committed by all forces in the armed conflict as against the rights of children of South Sudan and ask for more trainings.

“As mothers and commanders, we had no ideas and knowledge on the violations of the rights of our own children in the society,” stressed Ms. Daniels.

The long-term objective when it comes to such advocacy is to protect and prevent the occurrence of grave violations against children perpetrated by armed forces and groups. This would ensure that South Sudanese armed groups will, finally, be removed from what is known as the list of shame. The list being referred to is part of the UN Secretary-General’s report on the situation of children in armed conflict and contains national armies and other military groups known to violate one or more of the six grave violations.

The workshop brought together participants in interactive sessions that dealt with myriad issues related to major violations of child rights. It also gave participating commanders insight into the Comprehensive Action Plan signed in 2020 that is the roadmap towards stopping such egregious offences.

“All commanders attending the training sessions were interested in acquiring more knowledge and expressed their readiness to implement the Action Plan to end violations against children,” said Camila Tortoriello, Child Protection Officer, UNMISS.

UNMISS continues to support forces who are parties to the peace agreement to implement the Action Plan. The United Nations Country Task Force monitors and reports on the progress implementations, helping and guiding the forces to work towards becoming a unified, professional army.

 “Despite the fact that the conflict has come to an end and an agreement has been signed, this workshop will help us know what violations occurred and how we can make sure such abuses are never repeated,” stated senior commander Brigadier General Okeny George Lam. “We are now aware that SPLA-iO has been listed and as commanders it is our responsibility to disseminate and implement the Action Plan so that we have a spotless human rights record.”

UNMISS Child Protection regularly engages with the members of the Eastern Equatoria State Committee and Child Protection Task Force to conduct similar sensitizations to all forces in military barracks and cantonment sites.

The Committee is comprised of members from the South Sudan Opposition Alliance, Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition and the South Sudan Defense People’s Forces.