A total of 700 children have been screened and registered for release in phases.
JUBA, South Sudan, February 7, 2018 – More than 300 child soldiers have today been officially released by armed groups in Yambio to begin reintegrating into their communities and learning new skills to support themselves, according to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
“Children should not be carrying guns and killing each other. They should be playing, learning, having fun with friends, protected and cherished by the adults around them,” said the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS, David Shearer.
A total of 700 children have been screened and registered for release in phases – 563 from the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) and 137 associated with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In-Opposition (SPLA-IO). The first phase of the release project involving 311 young people was today marked at a ceremony in Yambio.
Eighty seven of the children released today are girls with the final total involved in the Yambio project expected to reach 220.
“This is the first time so many young women have been involved in a release like this in South Sudan,” said David Shearer. “They will have endured suffering, including sexual abuse. It is vital that they receive the support they need to rejoin their communities and that they are welcomed home by family and friends without any sense of stigma.”
UNMISS has been leading the project to release the children for more than six months, including providing peacekeeping troops to escort religious leaders into remote bush areas to make contact and negotiate with the armed groups. It has also worked closely with other key partners such as UNICEF, state and local authorities as well as community groups.
“Without the combined effort of all of these partners, today’s release would not have been possible,” said David Shearer. “I would like to pay particular credit to religious leaders who travelled into conflict zones and risked their own lives to bring these children to safety.”
David Shearer said the challenge ahead is to ensure the young people have the financial, practical, and emotional support they need to undertake training, find jobs, and access the opportunities they deserve to reach their full potential.
To assist in this process, UNMISS engineers have rehabilitated the road between Yambio and a nearby vocational training center so the young people can travel safely for training. UNMISS is also progressing other projects to release child soldiers over the coming months in Morobo, Bentiu, and in Pibor where 315 have been verified and registered so far.
I wish I didn’t had to write this piece, because of the constant warfare and civil-war that lasted and lasted. That the Government of South Sudan, Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement In-Government (SPLA/M-IG) with President Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his loyal people around him. There is also the main opposition from Dr. Riek Machar of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement – In Opposition (SPLM-IO) from there more and more people have deflected over the recent times. It is hard to keep count in all the rebellious groups. National Salvation Front (NAS) former SPLM-IO Lieutenant General Thomas Cirillo Swaka. As well as Dr. Lam Akol has founded National Democratic Movement (NDM). This is just the beginning and the list could go on. So the situation as the spark after peace agreement of 2015 is different. Because, there isn’t just two direct partners now. There is a bunch and one main government Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), who kind of lost meaning when the shooting in Juba happen and Machar has fled.
Though now that suddenly after all this time, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and United Nation’s Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) isn’t creating the levels of trust. This combined with the other monitoring missions like Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (JMEC) is making the situation more fluid. While the politics are still controlled by tight little group around the President Kiir. The ones loyal to him get the perks and write his decree’s. Not like the started Parliament with the TGoNU of the peace-agreement has made any changes. Especially after First Vice-President Gen. Taban Deng Gai took the place in his part of SPLM-IO, therefore, it is two of those and you can wonder how real that organization under Deng Gai is. Since he has been controversial from the get-go.
With all this mine, with armed groups and state sanctioned violence not respecting agreements, are creating a continued insurgency and fleeing civilians. While all of this is destroying possible peace and institutions, as long as it is like this, it is the war-lords leading and not the ones building up state structures.
Therefore, that the European Union sanctions on three persons should be seen as good. These individuals are Gen Paul Malong, who has been thrown out of government and been under house arrest. He has his following, but also his enemies after how he did his affairs. Therefore, weird that they are sanctioning him when he is out of government and not when he was in it and using military force against the ones who stood in the way of Kiir. Then you have one in the government, Michael Makuei Leuth for his role in obstructing IGAD process and violations against human rights. Then the Inspector General of the Army Malek Reuben Riak, who is in-charge of buying weapons. Therefore, that sanction makes sense. But I’m puzzled by the time of sanctioning Malong. That should have been done in 2016 or early 2017. Not now in 2018, when his role is more meaningless, unless they are sanctioning him for his past.
The United States are doing this: “Specifically, the Department of State will amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to update the defense trade policy toward South Sudan by application of a policy of denial, with limited exceptions, on the export of defense articles and defense services to South Sudan, including all parties involved in the conflict” (Heather Nauert – ‘U.S. Arms Restrictions on South Sudan’ 02.02.2018).
So the United States are more reacting and promising more amending the previous Executive Order then of 2014. Since, the initial changes is not in the direct statement. We cannot know what sort of changes in the arms trade this will have. Especially since the United States are selling weapons to partner states in the East African Region. One of them is Uganda who has had reports of helping with exporting equipment and arms to South Sudan. So if the United States and European Union wants to be serious. Then, the countries with borders to South Sudan also need to be included.
This has not been shown, but that is also because bilateral security agreements and needs for others contributions on the continent. That is why the US hasn’t broken their peace and arms trade with either Kenya or Uganda. They are both involved in conflicts and parts of Blue Helmet operations in Somalia and Central African Republic. That is also a reason for the special arms trade. We can wonder if this will be persistence.
I doubt that the efforts and arms embargo, the sanctions of arms to South Sudan will have much effect. Since the armed groups will get through their channels and cross the borders into Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ugandan and even Kenya to get their supply. That means also if the Sudanese government in Khartoum still opportunity to create havoc, they can support as well. They are already hated in the West and has nothing to lose to trade to some of the newly created military outfits who fights to get rid of Kiir. This should not be shocking, it should be no news. Just like if the Uganda People’s Defense Force suddenly arrived back, even with no agreement with IGAD, UN or AU. Just showed up because Kiir called his friend in Entebbe. That would be plausible and possible, since both parties has done it before. The oil coins given by South Sudan has been positive to the coffers of Museveni. He wouldn’t mind some more. Even if his country is hosting over a million South Sudanese refugees by December 2017. Therefore, the stakes in Uganda is high and should worry that they have contributed not only with peaceful aspects, but also military. They have strengthen the arms and equipment of the SPLA, the government army in South Sudan.
With this knowledge, why are just the sanctions always falling directly on the inner-circle of government, when they are conspiring with neighbors who gladly supply them for a dime and cookie. We should also make sure they couldn’t use merchants of death, use Lord of War sorts of methods to supply the civil war in South Sudan. Even though we do and we just accept it. The EU, US and AU haven’t addressed the third country supply, an important aspect that needs to be scrutinized. Peace.