Posts

Human Rights Watch’s Jo Becker: The U.S. Can Do More to Keep Children Off the Battlefield

[This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post on 10/04/2012]

President Barack Obama announced on Friday that, for the second year in a row, it was withholding portions of U.S. military assistance from the Democratic Republic of Congo because of its continued use of child soldiers. The U.S. also said it wouldn’t train a Congolese light infantry battalion until Congo signed an action plan with the United Nations to end its use of child soldiers. U.S. officials have repeatedly urged the Congolese government to address the issue.

The pressure seems to be working. After seven years of foot-dragging, today Congo finally signed the U.N. plan, which will require Congo to end child recruitment, demobilize children in its forces and allow U.N. verification visits to its barracks.

For years, Congo has ranked among the worst countries for child soldiers. At the height of the conflict there, the U.N. estimated that as many as 30,000 children were participating in the war. Today, hundreds each year are still recruited in eastern Congo, by both government and rebel forces. Children who have escaped or been released often fear they will be forced into service again.

The U.S. has withheld assistance from Congo under a landmark law, the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which prohibits U.S. military assistance to governments using child soldiers. In contrast it has, often on national security grounds, allowed other governments using child soldiers to continue receiving such aid, without conditions. Three examples — Chad, South Sudan and Yemen — show how the U.S. has missed opportunities to protect children from military service.

In Chad, government and rebel forces recruited thousands of children in a proxy war with Sudan that ended in early 2010. With U.S. pressure, the Chadian government signed a U.N. action plan in June 2011 to end child recruitment and demobilize all children from its forces. Child recruitment significantly dropped, with no new cases recorded in 2011. In June, the U.S. took Chad off its list of countries subject to possible sanctions under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, despite reports that children remained in Chad’s forces.

Read more

Sudan: Country Dismisses U.S. Report on Human Rights Violation

[from AllAfrica.com]

Juba — The government of South Sudan has strongly denounced the US department of states report on human rights on the country and instead reiterated its commitment to protect the fundamental human rights of citizens in the word’s newest nation.

A report released by the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Right and Labor pins documents a series of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other inhumane treatment of civilians that allegedly occurred in South Sudan between January to December 2011.

Approximately 250,000 people, it says, were displaced as a result of the conflict reportedly emanating from fighting between South Sudan army (SPLA) and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), clashes with renegade militia groups or cattle-related disputes among communities. Read more

Sudan’s Lost Boys: Our Hopes for a New Country

When South Sudan was created as an independent country in July, it offered a new hope and possibilities for a whole generation whose childhood was blighted by civil war.

Among the victims of Sudan’s conflict were 27,000 boys orphaned by the fighting. Known as the Lost Boys, some were forced to fight as child soldiers, while others fled and became refugees.

An estimated 1.5 million people were killed and another four million were displaced in what became Africa’s longest-running conflict.

The refugees fled to camps in Ethiopia and other neighbouring countries. It was a dangerous journey – many drowned or died from hunger. Others were killed by wild animals. Some of those who survived ended up far away, in countries such as the US. Read more

Darfurian Armed Group Commits to Not Using Child Soliders

Thursday, 6 October 2011, 1:23 pm
Source: UN News

Darfurian Armed Group Makes Commitment to UN to Stop Using Child Soldiers

New York, Oct 5 2011 – A faction of one of the armed groups in Darfur has agreed to prohibit the use of child soldiers in its ranks after discussions with the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Sudanese region (UNAMID), the mission reported today.

The Sudan Liberation Army’s Historical Leadership, a breakaway group of the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid (SLA/Abdel Wahid), submitted an action plan to the UN through Ibrahim Gambari, the AU-UN Joint Special Representative and head of UNAMID, on 25 September committing to end recruitment and use of child soldiers in compliance with Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict.

The group’s leader, Usman Musa, had in August issued a command order to his faction’s members to stop “recruiting and using children in the ranks of the movement.” His order also prohibited attacks on schools and hospitals and “all behaviour that leads to abuse and violence against children, including sexual abuse and forced marriage.”

Read more