Some children still serving in armed forces, groups: UNICEF

Some children still serving in armed forces, groups: UNICEF

An undated picture showing child soldiers serving under one armed group in South Sudan. [Photo: courtesy]

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said there are still children carrying guns in the armed forces and other armed groups in South Sudan.  

UNICEF Chief of Child Protection, Brendan Ross, lamented that children continue to be involved in armed conflicts and communal violence in the country despite efforts against their recruitment.  

“As we speak right now, there are still children who carry weapons in this country. There are still children in armed forces and groups,” he lamented, during the commemoration of Red Hand Day aimed at Preventing the Use of Child Soldiers in South Sudan.

He stated that children are still involved in communal conflicts, gang groups and moving in very dangerous areas, emphasising that saving them needs a collective effort.  

“We need to work together to make sure that we are not only ending child recruitment but also making sure that children are continuing to be saved outside the war and conflicts through the efforts of the police force, through the Ministry of gender child and social welfare, ministry of defence force, the SSPDF, creating an environment that is conducive for safety,” said Ross

The SSPDF Director of Child Protection, Maj. Gen Chaplain Khamis Edward noted that SSPDF is committed and will always remain committed to eradicating child soldiers in South Sudan.  

“Due to some challenges, we are still talking of issues of child soldiers we would already have cleared out since 2009 or 2012 but due to some recurring insecurity in South Sudan, that is why still we are talking about issues connecting to violations against children in South Sudan,” Khamis stated.

He added, “We want to be a free child soldier army like the other army in the world.”

Canada Ambassador to South Sudan, Aly-Khan Rajani, said, “Children pay the highest price when being recruited as soldiers, as this denies them the most basic things or causes them to experience unthinkable abuse, which no child should experience.”

“This is the chance to reflect on the many values that draw South Sudan’s independence movement, freedom, democracy, human rights, self-determination and the right to choose one’s right destiny,” he stated.

In the same occasion, Mr. Oluku Andrew, the DDR child national coordinator, revealed that over 250,000 children are still being used in the armed conflict situation in the country.