The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/68/878–S/2014/339) issued on 15 May 2014.
Before the most recent crisis, the Government of South Sudan had made tangible progress in addressing grave violations against children and implementing an action plan to end the recruitment and use of children. Such progress included issuing command orders to stop recruitment and use of children within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), undertaking joint verification visits with the United Nations to SPLA barracks, and regular training of SPLA troops. On 15 December 2013, fighting erupted between factions of SPLA aligned with the Government and former Vice-President Riek Machar Teny, reversing the initial progress made under the action plan.
The United Nations received credible information on grave violations against children by both pro-Government forces and opposition forces aligned with Riek Machar Teny. Thousands of children were reportedly mobilized in Upper Nile and Jonglei States by the Nuer ethnic group aligned with opposition forces, also known as the “White Army”. Thousands of children were killed or maimed, raped, displaced or orphaned. Attacks on schools and hospitals and their military use by all parties were also widespread, depriving children of access to education and health care and adding to the humanitarian crisis. Although the United Nations was able to verify limited numbers of violations against children by all parties to conflict, documented cases remained only indicative at the time of reporting and further verification was ongoing. In the hospitals of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Juba and Malakal alone, 110 children received treatment for conflict-related injuries. Since the United Nations was still verifying information regarding ongoing violations at the time of reporting, the cases reported below are limited to the period before the events following 15 December 2013.
Before the crisis, the United Nations verified the recruitment and use of
162 children, all boys and mostly between 14 and 17 years of age. Of the 162 children, 99 were associated with SPLA, 3 with South Sudan national police services and 35 with militia allied to David Yau Yau in Jonglei, and 25 were mobilized from Lou Nuer tribe to conduct community policing in Jonglei State. Children associated with SPLA were identified in military barracks, wearing SPLA uniforms as well as undergoing military training in conflict areas. In addition, reports of the recruitment and use of 133 children were pending verification at the time of reporting.
Sixty-three children were killed and 83 injured prior to the December crisis. Child casualties resulted from clashes between SPLA and armed groups, from inter-communal conflict in Jonglei, and from five separate incidents involving explosive remnants of war in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and Unity States.
The United Nations verified information of seven cases of sexual violence affecting seven girls. Individual SPLA soldiers in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, Unity, Upper Nile and Western Bahr-el-Ghazal States were allegedly responsible for the incidents.
During the reporting period, 26 new incidents of military use of schools and hospitals by SPLA (19), South Sudan national police services (6) and non-State actors (1) were documented, affecting the access to education of approximately 13,000 children. By 15 December, seven schools remained in use by SPLA, in contravention of the military order of 14 August 2013. The increased use of schools by SPLA also resulted from lessened cooperation with the United Nations following changes in SPLA leadership in January 2013. In addition, the United Nations verified the looting and burning of two hospitals located in Budi county, Eastern Equatoria State, resulting from clashes between cattle rustlers and Government forces. Militias allied with David Yau Yau allegedly burned another health centre in Pochalla County, Jonglei State.
As a result of inter-communal conflict, the United Nations received reports of 250 children abducted during the reporting period. The abduction of children continues to take place during cattle raiding and attacks at night where the sole aim is to abduct children.
The United Nations also received reports of at least 24 incidents of denial of humanitarian access, including forceful entry into humanitarian compounds, harassment and physical assault of humanitarian workers that hampered the ability of humanitarian actors to access the population in dire need of assistance.
As far as the latest crisis is concerned, the United Nations repeatedly advocated against the involvement of children in the ongoing conflict, and was in the process of collecting and verifying information of violations against children since the beginning of the crisis. Discussions between the United Nations and all parties were ongoing in that regard. I commend all efforts taken by the Security Council, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and other regional actors to address the renewed escalation of conflict in South Sudan. I call upon all parties to immediately put an end to the unacceptable scale of violence against children and to ensure that perpetrators will be held accountable.
Parties in South Sudan
1. Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)a,b,*
2. Opposition armed groups, including former SPLA in oppositiona,b
3. White Armya
The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators. a) Parties that recruit and use children. b) Parties that kill and maim children
*This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).