Senior uniformed and security personnel trained on the need to protect child rights

unmiss child protection child rights peace peacekeeping south sudan peacekeepers malakal united nations upper nile

Some 30 officers from the South Sudan People's Defense Force and the national security apparatus participated in a vital training on protecting children as well as ending violations of their rights as stipulated in the Revitalized Peace Agreement. The workshop, held by the UNMISS Child Protection Unit, took place in Malakal. Photo by Nyang Touch/UNMISS

8 Jun 2022

Senior uniformed and security personnel trained on the need to protect child rights

Nyang Touch

UPPER NILE – Children, not soldiers—that was the leitmotif of a training organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) for some 30 senior officials from the South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) and members of the national security apparatus in Malakal.

The two-day workshop focused on two key issues—preventing and ending the six grave violations against children and the impact of conflict-related sexual violence on child rights as well as the rights of women.

These grave violations 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.

Upholding the promise to adhere to ending these egregious offences is a key stipulation contained within the Revitalized Peace Agreement signed in 2018.

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.

“Children are the future of South Sudan and it is my dream to see our country removed from this list so that we can move forward in preparations to create a unified and professional army,” stated Colonel Garang Mou Alue, a participant.

The gender dimension in protecting children also cannot be ignored.

“Girls and women have suffered disproportionately due to pervasive conflict in our country,” revealed Corporal Achol Deng Lual.

“I believe that if the 35 per cent affirmative action guaranteed in the Peace Agreement is fully implemented among our uniformed personnel, we will be better able to ensure all children receive the protection they deserve, including young girls,” she averred.

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

Such consistent engagements from the UN Peacekeeping mission, humanitarian partners, national military actors and the Government of South Sudan is necessary as this young nation begins to galvanize efforts towards establishing its Necessary Unified Forces.

A main recommendation from workshop is assigning child protection focal points within the ranks of SSPDF officers.

“We have been requested by participating officers to select new points of contact that will be responsible for child protection issues and we concluded the workshop with their selection. We are confident that this will provide a boost to protecting and promoting children,” stated Gloria Eve Kasande, Head of the UNMISS Child Protection arm in Upper Nile.

UNMISS continues to support forces who are parties to the peace accord 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.