UNICEF has hailed as a key milestone thesigning of a new action plan by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)to end the use of children as soldiers. It is estimated that 1,200 children– both boys and girls – are still associated with the SPLA.
In the action plan signed November 20, the SPLA commits itself to preventand end the use of children under the age of 18 and to ensure their releaseand reintegration within a year.
“We welcome the signing of this action plan, which marks a renewedcommitment by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army to reinforce internationalstandards ending the use of children as soldiers,” said Peter Crowley,Director of UNICEF’s Southern Sudan Area Programme.
“The signing of the Action Plan is particularly significant given that ittook place on November 20, which was the 20th Anniversary of the Conventionon the Rights of the Child,” Mr Crowley added.
The agreement is a time-bound commitment by the SPLA to ensure that allchildren within their ranks are released and reintegrated back intosociety, he added.
The signing of the action plan was witnessed by Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy,Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and ArmedConflict, during a fact-finding mission to Sudan.
The Action Plan reiterates commitments made by the SPLA at the time of thesigning of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, at which time therewere about 12,000 child soldiers within the SPLA.
The plan lists a number of concrete measures reinforcing that commitmentincluding agreements to punish those within the SPLA who use and recruitchildren, to set up Child Protection Units within the ranks of the SPLA andto remove all children from the SPLA payroll to discourage children fromremaining in or joining the armed forces. The plan also permits UNICEF andother relevant child protection agencies to monitor and evaluateimplementation of the plan.