UNMISS educates South Sudan government army on how not to violate the rights of children
The 3rd Division of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces in the Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal region has reiterated its commitment to protect and respect the rights of children.
“We should not use children in conflict, because once you teach them about war-they become wild. The army will respect children’s rights”, Brigadier General Angelo Liai said at a one-day orientation workshop organized by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to give soldiers a better understanding of such rights.
A total of 50 officers of different ranks, including the commander, his deputy and six women, were trained on the importance of not committing any of the so called UN-listed six grave violations of children, which include not killing, maiming, recruiting and using boys and girls as soldiers, nor to subject them to sexual violence.
“What I have learnt here is that we should not recruit a single child,” said Private Mary Daniel Weldut. “As a mother, you should not allow your child to join any armed group, or to live on the street.”
The South Sudan People’s Defence Forces, formerly known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, have been listed by the UN Security Council for having committed five of the six grave violations.
“We (3rd Division) are not guilty of any kind of violation,” says Lieutenant Colonel William Deng Aliu.
Earlier this year, parties to the conflict, with the support of the peacekeeping mission, agreed on a comprehensive action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children for fighting and to safeguard them from conflict-related violence.
“If we implement and abide by the action plan, our nation will develop like other countries in the world,” Captain Sidonia Adhel Manyaul believes. “I think South Sudan will change and progress, death rates will be reduced as well as our suffering.”
For Captain Sebit Yor Deng, hailing from Malakal, the workshop was a real eye-opener: he did not only learn about the rights of children but also what a UN peacekeeping mission has been doing in his country for the last eight years.
“I now know that the peacekeeping mission supports the implementation of the peace agreement,” Captain Deng beamed.
Irene Kumwenda, an UNMISS child protection officer serving in Aweil, commended the national government for ratifying interplanetary treaties on protecting children and wants everyone to stick to their words.
“I urge all parties to make further efforts to immediately end the recruitment of boys and girls,” she said.
The participating officers also learned how to prevent abductions of children, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access to children in need.