27 September 2010 – Officers of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) begun a four-day training in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba to equip them with the necessary tools to monitor and promote children's rights.
Children used to be absorbed by the army to help prepare meals and fetch water while soldiers went to the frontlines, director of the SPLA Child Protection Unit Lt. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol said at the opening ceremony.
Lt. Gen. Kuol highlighted that the SPLA Act of 2009 prohibited the existence of and recruitment of children under the age of 18.
"We are working to ensure that those children who are already recruited into the SPLA are demobilized and we also work to prevent any further recruitment," said Abebaw Zeleke, acting country director of Save the Children - Sweden.
A child rights Code of Conduct targeting the SPLA regarding children associated with armed conflict was being developed, Mr. Zeleke added.
Acting Director of UNICEF - South Sudan Ken Maskall lauded the SPLA for accepting to follow International Humanitarian Law in regards to child rights.
"We are looking forward to professionalizing the SPLA by giving them any necessary support," Mr. Maskall said.
UNMIS Head of Child Protection Hazel de Wet said that children had suffered numerous hardships during Sudan's north-south conflict, which should not be underestimated.
"We cannot deny the fact that children have been affected badly by the armed conflict," she said, adding that UNMIS was planning to train an additional 3,000 officers on children's rights in 2011.
The workshop attracted 40 SPLA Child Protection Unit officers from the 10 Southern Sudanese states and was organized in partnership between UNICEF, Save the Children, UNMIS and the SPLA.