UNAMID Launches No Child Soldiers– Protect Darfur Campaign in West Darfur
On 2 May 2016, UNAMID`s Sector West Child Protection Unit (CPU), launched a Darfur-wide campaign, under the theme: “No Child Soldiers – Protect Darfur” at Krinding (1) Camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in El-Geneina, West Darfur. The campaign, aimed at raising awareness on the need to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed groups and armed forces across the region, brought together more than 90 participants including, women and youth groups, children and local community leaders including Sheik of Sheikhs (prominent leaders) of the Camp.
During the launch ceremony, the Mission distributed vests inscribed with messages that promote the protection of children and discourages adults against the use of these children as child soldiers and copies of the definition of child solider according to Paris principle 2007. In addition, UNAMID CPU briefed the internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the seriousness of violating children’s rights and urged the community to discourage their children, below 18 years of age, from enlisting into the armed forces or armed groups and to report any forms of abuse or violations of child rights to Child protection officers and local authorities for investigation.
Addressing the gathering, UNAMID Child Protection Unit Team Leader in West Darfur, Mr. Paul Bugunya, stated that the “No Child Soldiers– Protect Darfur” campaign is in line with the Mission’s mandate to protect civilian and emphasised that the campaign is not only aimed at putting an end to the recruitment and use of children by the armed groups and military forces, but also to ensure that children are afforded an opportunity to grow and attend school.
In his remarks, the Youth Leader in Krinding (1) IDP Camp, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Issa, explained that some of the children, after observing the vulnerability of their families, decide to join the armed groups as a way of seeking protection through the arms they legally obtain when they are recruited. “None of us would love to see his/her child in the armed forces or with armed groups, but as IDPs, people feel deep pain when our women and children go to farms, collect firewood or water and they are harassed” Mr. Ahmed added.
Speaking of behalf of the women in Krinding (1) IDP Camp, Ms. Sadia Ahmed, noted that poverty is one of the key drivers in child recruitment into armed forces or armed groups in Darfur.
UNAMID Child Protection Unit intends to roll-out this “No Child Soldiers – Protect Darfur” campaign throughout the region in the next few months.