Darfur movement establishes an Action Plan to end recruitment and use of child soldiers

The Sudan Liberation Army's Historical Leadership, a breakaway group from the armed movement SLA/Abdel Wahid, one of the major factions fighting in Darfur, has agreed to prohibit the use of child soldiers, following discussions with the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

On 25 September 2011, the group's leader, Usman Musa, submitted an action plan to the United Nations through UNAMID Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari, committing to end recruitment and use of child soldiers in compliance with Security Council Resolutions on children and armed conflict, and resolution 2003 (2011) on Darfur which extended UNAMID's mandate.

The group's leader had in August issued a command order to his members to prohibit "recruiting and using children in the ranks of the movement." His order also prohibited his members from "attacking schools and hospitals and all behaviour that leads to abuse and violence against children, including sexual abuse and forced marriage."

"The aim of UNAMID Child Protection is to assist the parties to the conflict and local communities to claim full ownership of the protection of children in anticipation of UNAMID's eventual exit from Darfur," said Boubacar Dieng, chief of the Child Protection Unit. "Ultimately, only the people of Darfur can guarantee effective protection for the children of Darfur."

Usman Musa told UNAMID that while his group does not systematically recruit children, some had lost their families and sought shelter with his group. He informed the UNAMID Child Protection Unit that he had identified 120 children associated with his group. He also confirmed that the list will be submitted to the North Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission for registration and reintegration of the children concerned. He agreed to conduct similar assessments in West and North Darfur to identify children amongst the ranks.

The United Nations has received similar action plans from other armed movements in Darfur including SLA Free Will, SLA Abu Gasim (Mother), and JEM Peace Wing. Meanwhile, a dialogue is continuing with the remaining armed groups and armed forces for commitment and implementation of such action plans.

In Darfur, 15 armed groups or armed forces are listed by the UN Secretary-General in his most recent annual report on children and armed conflict, as practicing recruitment or use of children.

From 2009 to February 2011, the North Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, with the support of the United Nations, registered 1,041 former child soldiers in Darfur.


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