June 16 2012 (JUBA) - The Republic of South Sudan on Saturday joined
the rest of the African continent to mark the Day of the African
Child; an annual event held since 1991 in memory of hundreds of
children who were killed in a 1976 protest march held in Soweto, South
Africa to demand for their rights.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in a statement issued
extended to Sudan Tribune, called on families, communities and
governments at all levels in South Sudan to protect children with
disabilities from discrimination, violence and neglect and to provide
them with access to all services they need to grow up healthy and live
up to their potential.
“We need to support all children to realise their dreams by paying
particular attention to their unique needs”, said Yasmin Haque, UNICEF’s
South Sudan representative.
“Disability is not inability. Families, communities and governments
need to ensure the provision of equal opportunities to all children
regardless of their physical and mental abilities,” she added.
Hundreds of people thronged the Juba based Nyakuron cultural centre
to celebrate this year’s day, which was based on the theme: “The
Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect,
Promote and Fulfill.”
To date, children in South Sudan, according to UNICEF, still face
multiple risks, including abductions, violence, malnutrition, disease,
and illiteracy which continue to take a toll on families and
communities, and on children themselves.
However, UNICEF, under the leadership of the ministry of gender, child
and social welfare is reportedly working with various partners on a
range of activities, notably creating awareness among the general
public to promote the rights of children with disabilities and ensure
Respect for children and promotion of their rights are also enshrined
in the South Sudan Child Act as well as the Convention on the Rights
of the Child (CRC). Recently, South Sudan and the UN signed a revised
action plan that will see them free child soldiers from within their
ranks, including putting a halt to child recruitment practices.