18 October 2010 – Twenty-four child protection officers from the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) began a five-day workshop today in the Western Bahr El Ghazal state capital of Wau on the rights of children in armed conflict.
Organized by Save the Children-UK, the workshop's topics will include UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to children, children and armed conflict, concepts of childhood, the impact of conflict on children and codes of conduct in relation to children.
"We need to abide by and respect all international conventions on children's rights and should work to promote the rights of all children, either in the military or within the civilian population," Acting Governor of Western Bahr El Ghazal State John Peter Miskin said at the opening ceremony.
During the two-decade long civil war in Sudan, many southern children were enlisted into the army as active combatants or in other capacities.
Field Program Manager Hellen Atieno Ajode said Save the Children had been working with the SPLA to train 3,400 officers as trainers on children's rights and create awareness of international conventions on child rights.
"The key partners in this project have developed a code of conduct which will remind the officers of their obligations under international humanitarian law," she said, adding that the code had been approved and was currently being adopted by the SPLA.
Amos Odeke, Senior Child Protection Officer of the SPLA-UNICEF Project on child rights capacity building said it had been difficult to verify the exact number of children in SPLA ranks.
"Currently the (Southern Sudan) DDR (Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration) Commission together with UNICEF is doing a verification exercise establish how many children are still associated with the SPLA," he said.
An additional 95 officers will be trained in Central Equatoria and Upper Nile states.