Sudan

‘Beyond School Books’ – a podcast series on education in emergencies

Segment #21: Sudanese child soldiers

UNICEF Image
© Kur Achiek
Abraham Kur Achiek was kidnapped and served with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) as a teenager.

By Pi James

NEW YORK, USA, 1 March 2010 – As a teenager, Abraham Kur Achiek served in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the rebel group that fought Sudan’s Government for more than 20 years. Today, he’s in his thirties and working as a Child Protection Officer for UNICEF in his native Southern Sudan.

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UNICEF and UN Radio moderator Amy Costello recently spoke with Mr. Kur Achiek about the time during his childhood when soldiers from the SPLA were his only teachers.

An imperfect education

Looking back, Mr. Kur Achiek said the atrocities he witnessed as a young rebel soldier haunt him to this day. Even so, he credits the SPLA with giving him an education, however imperfect it may have been.

UNICEF Image
© Kur Achiek
Mr. Kur Achiek with an SPLA commander, meeting about the demobilization of children in his force at Mapel Barracks, Southern Sudan.

“Although the education was not of quality,” said Mr. Kur Achiek, “I can tell you I’m proud and able to talk to you today because of the small education that I had with the SPLA. It opened my eyes [and] it was able to give me an opportunity to continue looking for more education.”

Finding hope through schooling

After escaping from the SPLA in 1994 and making it to the Kenyan border, Mr. Kur Achiek was placed in a refugee camp, where he says education was his only hope. Learning gave him the motivation to persist with his studies.

"I did not know anybody, anywhere,” Mr. Kur Achiek explained. “So the only hope was that if I could continue with this refugee education and gain some knowledge, at least [I] could make some changes in my life.”

The SPLA and the Government of Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. Nonetheless, the military recruitment of children continues throughout the region. Mr. Kur Achiek now uses his unique insight to demobilize children and prevent them from becoming associated with armed forces.


 

 

Audio

UNICEF Radio moderator Amy Costello speaks with UNICEF Child Protection Officer Abraham Kur Achiek about his experience as a child soldier and the impact of education on his life.
 AUDIO listen

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