SRSG Coomaraswamy meets with South Sudan President and visits Upper Nile State

Juba, South Sudan, 15 March – In a follow up to the action plan signing on Monday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy met the President Salva Kiir Mayardit who reaffirmed the commitment of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) to release all children from their ranks.

On Wednesday, SRSG Coomaraswamy travelled to Renk, Upper Nile, to assess, first hand, the status of returnee children from Sudan to South Sudan. United Nations humanitarian partners are deeply concerned that the number of returnees will increase drastically in the next few weeks. At present returnees are housed in makeshift camps with only minimal basic services.

“While welcoming the Framework Agreement initialed by the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan on 13 March related to the status of nationals in each other’s states, the international community must be on alert for the possibility of a large scale returns. Resources are urgently needed to ensure that children returning from Sudan are given the proper care and protection,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said.

While in Renk, she also met with the local commander of the SPLA and reinforced the message of the action plan signed in Juba to ensure that there are no children associated with the SPLA in Upper Nile, a state that rests between the volatile regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. 

In Juba, she emphasized the importance of child disarmament, demobilization, and re-integration with South Sudan DDR Commissioner William Deng Deng.

SRSG Coomaraswamy was also appraised of the situation in Jonglei state by NGOs and United Nations partners. “Child abduction is fuelling the conflict between Lou Neur and Murle communities. It is important that the best interest of the child is at the heart of any reconciliation,” the Special Representative said.

Of her mission in South Sudan, SRSG Coomaraswamy said, “for this new nation to flourish, it is essential that education is made a priority, even with an austerity budget. It is only the presence of effective social programmes that will prevent children from being lured into armed militias.”

Related press release: “South Sudan commits to making the national army child-free“
http://www.un.org/children/conflict/english/pr/2012-03-12280.html

 

 

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Juba, South Sudan – traveling with SRSG Coomaraswamy
Timothy La Rose
Communications Officer,
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+211 912 174 064
larose@un.org

In New York

Muriel Gschwend

Associate Communications Officer

Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

 +1 917-367-3562

gschwend@un.org