Preventing the recruitment of minors (child soldiers) in South Sudan

By Jock Nhial Both Kerjiok


While graduating youth to join the army, Kuol Manyang was quoted saying If you refuse to join the army, let your hair be plated and we will buy a skirt. It means you will no longer be a man, but a typical woman.”(Photo: file)

Dec 20, 2014(Nyamilepedia) — According to the United Nations, an estimated 9,000 children have been recruited to fight for SPLA (In Opposition) Force and government forces in South Sudan. With nothing to do and little hope, violent conflict continues in South Sudan as boys continue to be recruited to fight with SPLA/O- force and tribe- government forces. By James East, World Vision, Published June 4, 2014 at 08:45am

For one year South Sudan, SPLA (In Opposition) and various tribe Government groups in Juba have been involved in an armed conflict. According to UN figures of October-2014, there are currently between 11,000 and 14,000 minors who are also participating in this current war in South Sudan. Children and young people from vulnerable population groups, such as Children from Nuer and Dinka, are especially frequently targets of the recruitment compared to other tribes in the country.

According to information provided by the Human Rights Watch on Foreign Affairs, roughly 50% of the children and young people recruited illegally join these armed groups voluntarily. After witnessing atrocities, minors feel pressured to help protect their tribe, either Nuer or Dinka group. Some may also desire revenge. Those minors had a lack of knowledge of human right among the young recruited. The threat of children and young people being recruited is one of the reasons families are pressured to flee in an attempt to escape from Government control areas. As a result, South Sudan has the second highest number of internally displaced persons in the world making children more vulnerable to be recruited in the armed conflict. Nevertheless, the recruitment of minors continues to be a widespread and systematic practice.

In 2012 the SPLM/A and Government established the Interagency Committee for the Prevention of the Recruitment of Child soldiers and use of Children by Illegal Armed Groups. The Interagency Committee led by the former Vice President, and  Former General Chief of Staff as chairs of  SPLM/A committee; The commission’s tasks involve coordinating all the institutions working in this field, making proposals for prevention and assisting with implementation of removing children from these armies.

As the student of child protection and Youth Worker in Australia, my experience working with children and young people who grow up in armed conflict zone or former child soldier, I am hereby urging the Security Council for full implementation of Child right under UN convention. Your excellency your office need to take concrete and urgent action as the two warring parties in South Sudan enters its one year conflict and the use and recruitment of children continues with all armed forces and groups involved in these abuses.

The International Criminal Court of Hague should take measure against the regime of president Kier for using children as soldiers. Although his Government was accused of massacres, rapes, torture and ethnic killings by human rights activists and witnesses, plus recruitment and use of children to fight, the children was recruited to attack villages. For example some children are used for particularly hazardous duty, such as entering frontlines ahead of mature troops, or undertaking suicide missions.

I urge Human Rights Watch to strongly support the former Vice President’s proposal and Secretary-General’s call for the South Sudanese Government and Presidency to follow up on child protection issues and to coordinate those efforts with the United Nations. Human Rights Watch urges members of the Security Council to remind all armed forces and groups in South Sudan that the use of child soldiers under the age of 15 is a war crime, whether carried out by members of national armed forces or non-state armed groups., including members of its armed forces, and to prosecute those responsible at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

At the end of the rainy season in January –February, the UN must make sure children are not in the front lines. Far less certain is how many child soldiers will die in combat before reaching peace in South Sudan, and many have already lost their lives.

The UN Secretary-General is expected to release his annual report to the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict at the end of January 2015, including a list of governments and non-state armed groups that are in violation of international standards prohibiting the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The list is likely to include forces in South Sudan for the first time. In addition, the SPLA will remain on the list of violators for their continued use of child soldiers.
Yours Sincerely;

Allard, T., Ogilivie, J., Stewart, A. (2007). The Efficacy of Strategies to Reduce Juvenile Offending. Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.

Morris, L., Sally banks, J., Willis, K., & Makkai, T. (2003). Sport, physical activity and antisocial behaviour in youth (Australian Institute of Criminology, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice No. 249). Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi249t.html

Jock Nhial Both Kerjiok
The author is a student of post graduate -Certificate in Child protection and Student of Master in Youth and society –currently studying Flinders University in South Australia- easily be reach through his Email address:djock0001@flinders.edu.au

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