South Sudan, 24 June 2014: Government recommits to action plan to end recruitment and use of children
24 June 2014, JUBA, South Sudan – In a ceremony at the headquarters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Juba this morning, the Government of South Sudan formally renewed its commitment to the Action Plan signed in 2012 with the United Nations to end the recruitment and use of children in Government armed forces and other grave violations against children.
“Children do not belong in our army and I personally commit, on behalf of my Government, to fully implement all provisions of the Action Plan,” declared Koul Manyang Juuk, South Sudan’s Minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs.
Today’s agreement recalls the measures agreed to in the 2012 Action Plan and includes: releasing all children associated with government security forces, providing services for their family reunification and reintegration; investigating grave violations against children and holding perpetrators accountable. The Government is also committing to ending all grave violations committed against children.
Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, witnessed the agreement.
“The promise of the Action Plan is that children will be protected from recruitment and use and other grave violations at all times, including during periods of instability or conflict”, said Leila Zerrougui. “Accountability is key. If those who recruit, kill, maim and rape boys and girls, attack schools and hospitals never face justice, no lasting peace will be possible.”
The Action Plan, originally signed in 2009 and renewed in 2012, resulted in the release of more than one thousand children, command orders banning child recruitment and use, as well as the creation of a SPLA unit dedicated to the protection of children.
“So much of the progress made by the Government in the past years has been reversed in the current conflict,” said Jonathan Veitch. “This public recommitment is a major step in the right direction and UNICEF will be sure to hold the Government to the terms of this agreement.”
Using children in conflict has a devastating impact on their lives and their protection is essential to build the future of their country.
Note to editors:
South Sudan is one of eight countries involved in the campaign Children, not Soldiers, launched in March 2014 by the Special Representative and UNICEF. The campaign aims to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government security forces listed by the Secretary-General in his annual report on children and armed conflict.
For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay, Communications officer, Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Tel: +1 917 288 5791, firstname.lastname@example.org
Doune Porter, Chief, Strategic Communication, UNICEF South Sudan, Tel: +211 (0)952 819 302; email@example.com
More on the crisis in South Sudan