Child rights and protection focus of UNAMID- supported SAF officers training
Strengthening the capacity and sensitivity of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) toward child rights and child protection was the focus of a UNAMID-supported workshop held in El Fasher in northern Darfur last week.
Some 49 SAF officers took part in the training on 18 January 2107, conducted by UNAMID’s Child Protection Unit (CPU). Aimed at strengthening cooperation with SAF towards the protection of children, the training included details of the “No Child Soldiers-Protect Darfur” campaign.
The event was organized within the Mission’s wider framework of advocacy, sensitization and capacity-building of external partners. Similar training workshops will be conducted for SAF officers across Darfur during the year.
Boubacar Dieng, Head of UNAMID’s CPU, reinforced to participants the importance of their guaranteeing, in the course of their work, the maximum protection for children.
Mr. Dieng underlined that significant efforts have been made in Darfur to end recruitment and use of child soldiers since 2009, noting that there had been no caseload in the past three years that substantiate continued recruitment and use of child soldiers by the parties to the conflict. He added that all parties should continue to work with UNAMID/UN to strengthen prevention and ensure child soldiering is stopped permanently in Darfur.
Colonel Mohamed Almurtada, a liaison officer with SAF, commended UNAMID for organizing the training, indicating that such initiatives serve to enhance cooperation between UNAMID and SAF.
The Colonel emphasized the need for further training, which would help to address issues related to peace and the protection of children.
Major Mahmoud Abass, one of the participants, said that the workshop highlighted the importance of child rights, particularly the need to stop child recruitment and the use of children as soldiers. Major Abass said that he planned to share what he had learned at the training with subordinates.
Another participant, Major Awad Ahmed, noted that the definition of child solider is not limited to child combatants, but includes anyone under the age of 18 who serves with an armed group in any capacity.
UNAMID has engaged with parties to the conflict in Darfur on numerous occasions, resulting in the establishment of six Action Plans and the issuance of nine Command Orders to end child recruitment and the use of children as soldiers, and to stop other violations including abduction, killing and sexual abuse.
The Mission has supported a Darfur-wide campaign “Protect Children/Support Efforts of UNAMID – No sexual relations with minors.” The campaign -- part of global United Nations’ efforts to protect children – aimed to raise awareness among the Mission’s peacekeepers regarding child sexual abuse and exploitation, and establish a zero tolerance policy.