SOUTH Sudanese children clad in military and police uniforms have been spotted manning checkpoints, guarding military facilities and carrying heavy weapons throughout the country as the crisis deteriorates.
In the wake of these continued violations against minors, United Nations envoys have proposed sanctions on perpetrators of the conflict.
As the situation deteriorates, it has coincided with large-scale child recruitment and use in war, the targeting of children on the basis of ethnic identity by means of killing and abduction, unlawful deprivation of liberty, rape, sexual violence, burning of villages and looting, as well as the denial of humanitarian access.
“Children have been victims and witnesses of the most appalling violations,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
Zerrougui explained that if those responsible did not face consequences for their actions, this was a green light to continue the barbarity.
She reminded the UN Security Council Committee that sanctions were a tool at their disposal.
Zainab Bangura, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, said the committee had an important role to play in following through on the threat of targeted sanctions against perpetrators of sexual-violence crimes.
“A culture of denial persists in South Sudan. For the parties in conflict to protect women and girls from acts of sexual violence, they must exercise ownership, responsibility and leadership,” said Bangura.
Some 1,6 million South Sudanese refugees are children. Over 1 million of them are estimated to be acutely malnourished.
South Sudan escalated into conflict in 2013 after President Salvar Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar and ten others of attempting a coup.
Fighting worsened last year as the country celebrated five years of independence from Sudan. Over 300 000 civilians have been killed about 2 million displaced.
©Alleastafrica and CAJ News