South Sudan: Efforts to protect children from armed conflict must be supported – South Sudan

Third visit of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to South Sudan

New York/Juba, 25 May 2022 – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, paid an official visit to South Sudan during which she notably co-opened the National Conference on children and armed conflict.

“The National Conference on Children and Armed Conflict provides us with a unique opportunity to reflect on and assess progress made under the Global Plan of Action to End and Prevent All Grave Violations against Children and to discuss challenges we have faced and are still facing. But also, and most importantly, this is a chance for all of us to come together and imagine together what a better future can be for the children of South Sudan” , said Virginia Gamba in her opening speech.

This visit, her third to the country since she took office, was also an opportunity to engage with key stakeholders, take stock of the implementation of the Comprehensive Action Plan to End and prevent grave violations against children, and agree on priority activities for the future. Virginia Gamba welcomed the opportunity to meet with HE President Salva Kiir Mayardit, HE First Vice-President Dr. Riek Machar, HE Vice-President Rebecca Nyandeng Garang de Mabior, Ministers, United Nations partners, including the Head of UNMISS and the Co-Chairs of the National Monitoring and Reporting Task Force (CTFMR) and members of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict in South Sudan, including representatives the diplomatic community and international NGOs.

The national conference was organized by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan as part of its commitment to better protect children from hostilities, with the support of UNMISS and UNICEF. The Conference was supported by the highest authorities, including HE Vice President Rebecca Nyandeng Garang de Mabior, who opened the event on behalf of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Representatives of local and national authorities from all regions of South Sudan, representatives of civil society as well as children and other partners participated in the conference.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Plan of Action in February 2020, thousands of members of the South Sudan Armed Forces have been trained, hundreds of children have been released and grave violations have decreased compared to a few years ago. barely. “These are steps in the right direction,” said Virginia Gamba. “But efforts must be sustained as the six grave violations against children continue to be committed by parties to the conflict in South Sudan,” she added.

In particular, she called on the authorities to fight against impunity, which remains endemic, in particular by reforming the judicial system as provided for in the revitalized peace agreement. “Without accountability, victims of grave violations are not only deprived of a childhood of peace, security and dignity, but they also experience the tragedy of injustice at an early age. That we have to change,” she stressed. She further called for the creation of a child protection focal point within the Ministry of Justice to assist prosecutors in any training to better implement existing laws criminalizing the six grave violations.

The Special Representative called for a renewed commitment to completing the Comprehensive Plan of Action to end and prevent all grave violations against children in South Sudan. In doing so, she insisted on including the voices of the children themselves, as “they are the ones who know exactly what is needed to improve their lives and their future”.

In addition, the SRSG called on all partners to increase their support for reintegration efforts and assistance programs, including through community centers to better support education, psychosocial assistance and service delivery. communities allowing for more comprehensive and sustainable approaches to reintegration. “These facilities should be developed in as many parts of South Sudan as possible, as a fundamental peacebuilding exercise on behalf of South Sudanese children and their families,” she added.

She thanked the leadership and teams of UNMISS and UNICEF, including the Co-Chairs of the CTFMR, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Sara Beysolow Nyanti, and the Representative of UNICEF, Mrs. Hamida Lasseko. , and all partners for supporting its mission and continued cooperation.

She underscored the need for innovative models of prevention and reiterated that ultimately peace is a prerequisite for development and prosperity and remains the best and most enduring shield for children against hostilities. She further shared the concern of the Government of South Sudan that the prevention of grave violations against children and armed conflict and the prevention of trafficking in persons, especially children, are essential elements in ensuring a South Sudan prosperous and secure. She called on the international community and all potential partners of South Sudan to contribute to support efforts for reintegration, education and peacebuilding in the country. “It’s time to make sure this generation has a future ahead of them. Now is the time for peace and unity. I am convinced that the authorities of South Sudan share this vision and this objective and I call on them to continue to put in place measures to better protect children in South Sudan,” she concluded.

Note to editors:

The Comprehensive Plan of Action to End and Prevent All Grave Violations against Children in South Sudan was signed on 7 February 2020 by the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and endorsed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in opposition, both listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General. Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict

For more information, please contact:

Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict +1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / [email protected]