31 August 2010 - UNICEF hails the formation of Child Protection Department in the Southern Sudan Army
Juba, Southern Sudan – UNICEF has today hailed as a key milestone the formation and launch of a Child Protection Unit in the Southern Sudan Army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
Speaking during the launch at the SPLA Headquarters in Juba, Catherine Mbengue, Officer in Charge for the Director of Operation, UNICEF Southern Sudan said, The launch of the child protection Department is a testimony of the commitment of the Government of Southern Sudan and the SPLA to accelerate the establishment of an environment where the right of all the children are respected”
Ms. Mbengue called for concrete measures to be put in place to ensure that all levels of the SPLA and each soldier within the SPLA rank understand and respect their obligations under the various legal national instruments and the international laws to which the Government of Southern Sudan Government subscribed to.
The Child Protection department within the SPLA Headquarters is charged with the responsibility to ensure that no children are in the ranks of the SPLA. It also works with partners during the verification, registration and demobilization of children still associated with the SPLA.
“We welcome the commitment by the SPLA to respect the rights of the child and ensure that the SPLA is child free”, said Lise Grande, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Southern Sudan. “Children are the very core of Southern Sudan and we hope the Government of Southern Sudan and the SPLA give the Child Protection department the support it deserves to effectively carry out its functions”, Ms. Grande added.
The formation of the Child Protection department is in line with an Action Plan the SPLA recently signed committing them to release all children in their ranks by November and end the use of children as soldiers.
The SPLA has appointed a panel of five members comprised of senior commanders to oversee the implementation of the Action Plan and to in turn guide the Child Protection Unit.
This Action Plan reinforces the commitment made by the SPLA at the time of the signing of the CPA in 2005 to demobilize all children within their ranks.
UNICEF provides both financial and technical support to Southern Sudan Disarmament Demobilisation and Re-integration (DDR) Commission and SPLA Child Protection Unit to carry out sensitization campaigns and raise awareness with the SPLA officers on the legal framework on child rights, both international and national laws that prohibit recruitment and use of children by
The recruitment or use of children under the age of 18 in armed conflict is contrary to international law and contrary to Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
For more information, please contact: