UN working group urges South Sudan’s leaders to end violations against children
The United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict called on South Sudan’s leaders to end and prevent all violations and abuses against children in the country.
Led by the Swedish Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Olof Skoog, the delegation traveled to South Sudan to meet government officials, security forces, civil society and humanitarian agencies as well as children forcibly recruited into armed forces.
“Any child that has a real choice would never join in any armed conflict. That is a given,” said Ambassador Olof Skoog. “Unfortunately, the circumstances in South Sudan and elsewhere, have forced children into the armed conflict for economic reasons, or for being pressured in or abducted, kidnapped and forced in. Regardless of the reasons, for any child to have joined the armed forces, they are victims, always.”
At a press conference in Juba on Wednesday, Ambassador Skoog urged the country’s leaders to continue to release and reintegrate child soldiers into the community but acknowledged that further support is needed for this process.
“There is also a need for a solid investment in social, economic development, schools, health care services and protection also outside the armed conflict. The presence of justice and police are an important aspect of this,” he said. “I understand that there is a capacity issue. But it is my hope that, as the country hopefully moves away from conflict into peace, the investments that have been made by the United Nations and the Government when it comes to humanitarian emergency relief can be shifted into more resilience, development, social and economic investments.”
The Working Group said the newly signed peace agreement provides a fresh chance for political leaders to improve the situation for children.
“I believe that the peace agreement in its revitalized form is an opportunity to turn the corner and to move forward when it comes to really and truly protecting the interests of the children of South Sudan,” said Ambassador Skoog.
The Working Group has also recommended the criminalization of the six grave violations against children as part of an upcoming review of the Penal Code and the enhancement of accountability measures in South Sudan.