Media Advisory: United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Travels to South Sudan

New York - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, will travel to the Republic of South Sudan from 22-27 June. She will meet with members of the Government, UN partners and civil society to assess the impact of the conflict on children and follow-up on the implementation of the action plan signed by the Government of South Sudan to end and prevent the recruitment of children in the country’s armed forces.

She will also follow up on the 10 May commitment signed in Addis Ababa by Riek Machar, the Chairman of the SPLM/A in opposition. Mr. Machar agreed to end all grave violations against children, to cooperate with the United Nations and to provide humanitarian access and assistance to child victims.

From 22 to 24 June, Ms. Zerrougui will conduct joint visits and advocacy with UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, notably on the right to education, ending and preventing attacks against schools as well as the military use of schools.

This mission also marks the beginning of the collaboration between the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and Forest Whitaker, UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation.

Mr. Whitaker will formally announce his support for the campaign Children, not Soldiers. The campaign, launched in March 2014 by the Special Representative and UNICEF, aims to end and prevent the recruitment of children by Government forces in conflict by 2016. South Sudan is one of eight countries involved in the campaign.

The mission of the Special Representative is organized in close cooperation with UNICEF and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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Background on South Sudan’s Action plan to end the recruitment and use of children:

In March 2012, the Government of South Sudan committed to an Action Plan to end the recruitment and use of children by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Following the signature of the action plan, children were released from the ranks of the SPLA, command orders issued and joint UN-Government screening of troops took place to identify and release children. The SPLA also established a child protection unit to facilitate the implementation of the action plan.

The conflict that begun in December 2013 reversed the gains made towards the implementation of the Action Plan.

United Nations estimates indicate that as many as 9,000 children could have been recruited or associated with Government and opposition forces since the beginning of conflict at the end of 2013.

You can find information on the campaign Children, not Soldiers here: http://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/children-not-soldiers/ 

For additional information or interview requests, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay
Communications officer, Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
+1 917 288 5791, tremblay@un.org