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Darfur rebels ban use of child soldiers

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December 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The rebel Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) decided to ban the recruitment of child soldiers, said a statement issued by the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

"The command order, issued by SLA-MM leader Minni Minawi, comes following his participation in a workshop on peace and security in Darfur held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 9-11 December", the statement reads.

In December 2008, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) disclosed that more than 6,000 child soldiers operate in Darfur region where about two million children have been affected by the conflict.

UNAMID chief, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, welcomed the decision of the rebel groups to prohibit the recruitment of child soldiers in its ranks.

"UNAMID appreciates the commitment of SLA-MM to adhere to the international laws and principles on the protection of children against violence,” Ibn Chambas said.

He further underscored that using children in armed conflict is a "serious crime that not only endangers their own lives but will also affect negatively their future and that of their societies."

In June 2009, the then chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo said they were closely monitoring the child soldier crimes, stressing "That’s a big deal and it’s possible that parties to the (Darfur) conflict use child soldiers."

Another rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) signed a an agreement with UNAMID to prohibit the use of children in September 2012.

(ST)

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