Senior officers of the opposition forces living in cantonment sites in the eastern Ecuadorian region of South Sudan have received training to help them better understand the laws that protect children caught up in armed conflict.
“As soldiers, we need to know that children are vulnerable in a conflict situation,” said Major General Ceasar Oromo, commander of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) in Torit West. “If we are fighting we have to know who we are fighting for, these are children and women who are very innocent, they need us.”
Opposition SSOA and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA-IO) officers are located at the Nyara and Irube cantonment sites while waiting to begin their training to be part of a force. unified national security framework under the 2018 peace accord.
They received training from the Child Protection Unit of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to better understand international humanitarian law and basic human rights principles, including the rights of women and children in armed conflict and post-conflict situations.
The SPLA-IO is listed by the United Nations Security Council for violating the rights of children, including the recruitment and use of children in the military ranks, as well as their murder, mutilation and kidnapping.
“The three violations for which we have been listed as opposition forces, I want to assure you that our president has ordered us, the commanders, to comply and not to get involved again in these abuse ”, Patrick Ohiti Osfaldo, commander of the SPLA-IO in the Irube cantonment site, advised his colleagues.
Recently, parties to the conflict re-committed to implementing the Plan of Action to End Child Rights Violations in South Sudan. The action plan has been designed to deal with specific situations and outlines concrete steps with time limits that will lead to respect for international law and better protection of children in the future.
“Our office is ready and we are ready to work with you throughout this process and to support the implementation of the action plan,” said Iddah Wambugu, child protection officer, working with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“Responsibility kicks in and those who may have been implicated in violations will be investigated and, therefore, administrative and other measures will be taken to improve justice. “