South Sudan: UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Calls for the Release of Children Recruited by All Parties

New York – The recruitment and use of child soldiers continues to be a major challenge in South Sudan, despite commitments by the Government and the opposition led by Riek Machar to protect children from the impact of conflict, stated Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General  for Children and Armed Conflict.

“No children have been released from the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) or Riek Machar’s opposition,” said Leila Zerrougui. “Instead, we are receiving reports of hundreds of new recruitments of child soldiers by militias and groups aligned with the Government or the SPLA in Opposition.”

The UN has gathered evidence that a militia led by Johnson Oloni, a commander integrated into the SPLA, is responsible for the abduction of at least 89 and possibly hundreds of children in Wau Shilluk in mid-February. The SPLA stated they have no control over Oloni’s militia.

“The children abducted are reportedly receiving training and could be on their way to the frontlines,” said the Special Representative. “I am very concerned and I call on the Government of South Sudan to take action to prevent this from happening.”

As the leaders of the Government and opposition meet once again to negotiate peace, Ms. Zerrougui urges them to act on their commitments to protect children and include, as a priority, the release of all children recruited and used by the parties to the conflict.

“There will be no lasting peace if we exclude children, who are the majority of the population. They need to be released, and there needs to be accountability for child recruiters and those who commit grave violations against children,” concluded the Special Representative.

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Note to editors:
South Sudan is one of seven countries involved in the campaign “Children not Soldiers”, which aims to end the recruitment and use of children in Government armed forces in conflict by 2016. Led by Leila Zerrougui, 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 officer
Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict
Office: +1 212 963 8285, Mobile: +1 917 288 5791
tremblay@un.org