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UN, South Sudan sign child-free army plan

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March 12, 2012 (JUBA) - The UN and South Sudan’s army, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), on Monday signed a revised action plan regarding their commitment to ridding the army from child soldiers.

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Radhika Coomaraswamy witnesses the action plan, March 12, 2012 (UN)

The agreement was signed by Pieng Deng Koul, SPLA’s deputy chief of general staff for administration, Lise Grande, the UN deputy special representative to the Secretary General in South Sudan and Pelucy Ntambirweki, the deputy representative for the UN children fund (UNICEF).

It was witnessed by Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for children and armed conflict and Majak Agot, South Sudan’s deputy minister for defence and veterans affairs.

Since 2005, the SPLA was listed by the UN Secretary-General as involved in the recruitment and use of children in conflict.

Speaking during the occasion held in Juba, the South Sudan capital, Coomaraswamy said the signing was “crucial” for the SPLA as it is transforms from the rebel movement that fought Khartoum for more than two decades, into a national state army.

“This is an important day for South Sudan - the world’s newest country. Not only does this action plan ensure the Government’s commitment that the SPLA will have no children within its ranks, but all armed groups who have accepted amnesty with the Government must also release their children,” said Coomaraswamy.

She also said the signatories hoped that “children will spend more time in schools with books and not in the barracks.”

South Sudan’s deputy defence minister described the action-plan as an important milestone in providing alternative opportunities for children.

The action plan ensures that a transparent system is in place for disciplinary action against those in command who recruit children within the SPLA. It also improves communication among commanders to make sure that the practice of child recruitment is halted and responsibility for child protection is understood on all levels.

The UN has, in the recent past, reportedly signed similar agreements with the Afghan National Security Forces, the Chadian National Army, and with the Armée Populaire pour la Restauration de la République et la Démocratie (APRD) in the Central African Republic.

 (ST)

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  • 14 March 2012 12:54, by Waucity

    Let whoever wants to join military join..They don’t have to go war right away but our country is not like many other countries...We don’t have adult population, Stupid UN!!!!!!!!!!

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  • 14 March 2012 19:42, by Seaside

    Taking children out of the equation of violence is the first step to positive change. This also means that you will help to ensure their survival into adulthood and grow a strong and educated population for the future. I’d say it’s a good step in long-term planning for a more peaceful and secure country.

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  • 15 March 2012 05:19, by Bolman

    it signed but who put that in action we don’t have they all tells lies insteady by telling the world wide truth pieng deng koul was the one kill Gn Gatluak Gai and he was denied that, just the money talks in South Sudan to kill the inocient people who like country to have peace and well security

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