EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, October 13, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur welcomed a community-based strategic plan to end the use of children as fighters in inter and intra ethnic clashes initiated by Sheikh Musa Hilal and endorsed by leaders from the Abbala, Beni Hussein, Fur, Tamma, Gimir and Awalad Janoub tribes in Kabkabiya, El Sereif, Saraf Umra, Al Waha and Jebel Si localities in North Darfur.
Sheikh Hilal previously issued a command order on 26 July 2013 to the members of the communities under his leadership to prohibit the use of children as fighters. In the order, apart from the recruitment and use of child soldiers, he condemned sexual violence against children, abduction, killing and maiming of children and attacks against schools and hospitals. He assured his full commitment and adherence to international norms and standards protecting children in situations of armed conflict.
The strategic plan establishes an implementation follow-up committee not only to raise awareness about the negative impact of using children as soldiers but also to identify children who have served as fighters in past ethnic conflicts and to work with relevant organisations to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society including through access to education and vocational training skills.
UNAMID expects that the successful implementation of the plan will serve as a platform to foster relations between communities, contribute to ending tribal clashes and enhance the protection of children. The Mission applauds the progress made in Darfur through promoting the local ownership of the protection of children agenda.
“We are glad to witness that communities are taking the lead role in protecting children who are the future of Sudan. UNAMID will continue to support on-going efforts to rid Darfur of child soldiering and other grave violations against children,” said UNAMID Acting Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator a.i., Abiodun Bashua.
Since 2009, six parties to the conflict in Darfur have established action plans to end recruitment and use of child soldiers, and nine have issued command orders prohibiting the practice. Meanwhile, more than 1,200 former child soldiers have been registered to benefit from reintegration programs with the support of Sudan’s Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, UNICEF and UNAMID.