EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, August 8, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The leadership of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur welcomed the new steps taken by the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) to prohibit the recruitment and use of child soldiers in its ranks.
The movement previously issued a command decree to adhere to international norms and standards protecting children and the Sudan Child Act of 2010, and on 6 August 2014 outlined a formal operational mechanism that establishes an implementation committee not only to raise awareness about the movement’s prohibition of child soldiers but also to work with relevant organisations to reintegrate child soldiers into society.
This step comes after the command order was issued by SLA/MM leader Minni Minawi on 17 December 2013 following his participation in a workshop on peace and security in Darfur held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and co-organized by the AU-UN Joint Mediation Support Team and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
“This is a significant development that contributes to UNAMID and Sudanese concerted efforts to eradicate the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Darfur and could encourage a rapprochement toward peace,” said UNAMID Deputy Joint Special Representative, a.i., Abidoun Bashua. “We call on all parties to the conflict and appeal to all communities across Darfur to refrain from using children as combatants, as the protection of children is one of the foundations for lasting peace in every society.”
Since 2009, six parties to the conflict in Darfur 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 benefitted from reintegration programs with the support of Sudan’s Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, UNICEF and UNAMID.