UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Welcomes Release of Children in South Sudan

NEW YORK – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, welcomes the release of children associated for far too long with David Yau Yau’s South Sudan Democratic Army (SSDA/M) Cobra Faction.

Earlier today, 249 children recruited by the SSDA/M Cobra Faction were released in Gumuruk, Jonglei State. It is expected that all the children associated with David Yau Yau’s armed group will be freed in the coming weeks.

“I personally met David Yau Yau last June in Gumuruk and saw child soldiers associated with his armed group. He recognized he had children in his ranks and expressed his willingness to work with the United Nations to release them. I am pleased to see that months of tireless advocacy by the UN in South Sudan is finally yielding results,” said Leila Zerrougui.

UNICEF and its partners are now setting up the massive response necessary to provide protection and services to help children from the Cobra Faction go back to their families and rebuild their lives.

“These children, in some cases as young as 11, were thrown into the middle of a violent conflict and will need months, if not years to recover from what they have been through,” Zerrougui declared. “Helping them take back their lives must be a priority and I call on the international community to provide sufficient resources to ensure they have access to the support that will help them heal and return to a peaceful life.”

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South Sudan is one of seven countries involved in the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, which aims to end the recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces in conflict by the end of 2016. During the Special Representative’s visit to South Sudan in June 2014, the Government recommitted to the full implementation of its action plan with the United Nations to end the recruitment and use of children in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. In May, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/ Army in Opposition, Riek Machar, signed a commitment with the Special Representative to end all grave violations against children.

“Today’s release of children is a step in the right direction, but we cannot forget that thousands more have been recruited by all parties to the conflict. I urge the Government of South Sudan and the opposition led by Riek Machar to honor their commitments. The release of children in their ranks is long overdue,” concluded Leila Zerrougui.


About ‘Children not Soldiers’

‘Children not Soldiers’ is a campaign to end the recruitment and use of children in Government armed forces by 2016. Led by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF, the campaign mobilizes global support and financial resources so the seven government armed forces listed in the Secretary General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict become and remain child-free.

For additional information, please contact:
Stephanie Tremblay, 
Communications, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,

Tel: +1 212 963 8285, Mobile: +1 917 288 5791 (mobile),