News

    S. Sudan Agrees to Release Child Soldiers

    Child soldiers of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) wait for their commander at a demobilization ceremony at their barracks in Malou, southern Sudan Sunday, February 25, 2001 (file photo).
    Child soldiers of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) wait for their commander at a demobilization ceremony at their barracks in Malou, southern Sudan Sunday, February 25, 2001 (file photo).
    Hannah McNeish

    The United Nations says a new deal signed with South Sudan's army could lead to the newest country being delisted from nations which use and recruit child soldiers.  Special Representative to the U.N. Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, announced in Juba Friday that the deal signed this week could lead to 2,000 more children being released soon.

    The SPLA - a former guerrilla movement that fought Sudan for decades and secured South Sudan's independence in July - has released 3,000 children since a 2005 peace agreement ended the civil war.

    On Monday, South Sudan's army formally signed an agreement with the United Nations to release all children within its ranks.

    U.N. Special Representative Radjika Coomaraswamy says swift implementation is important as the army has many more children to release due to the military absorbing many child combatants from rebel groups who responded to a government amnesty offer.

    "If you're a violator that's been persistent, there's the possibility of sanctions against the party," said Coomaraswamy.  "So the purpose of this visit was because the SPLA has been on this list since 2006. And it's very important that we delist them as soon as possible, and now they are a national army, it becomes extremely important."

    Coomaraswamy toured South Sudan this week to assess the status of children and to discuss South Sudan's progress in freeing child combatants.  But she was not able to visit the troubled Jonglei state, where more than 140,000 people have been affected by ethnic violence this year.

    She voiced concern that traditional cattle raiding between rival communities had become increasingly deadly, and that children were often targeted in the killings and large numbers were abducted along with women.

    "It's our sense that this factor is really fueling the violence and giving it a little edge, making it more difficult to resolve this situation," Coomaraswamy added.  "So we want to ensure that in the future there will be no impunity for those who abduct, but also we want to ensure that any reconciliation process will have to have the return of women and children"

    Coomaraswamy also voiced concerns over areas in western South Sudan that are still terrorized by cross-border attacks by the infamous Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  

    This fanatical rebel group - that has recruited children to commit atrocities in border areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda for years.

    The plight of these so-called invisible children has taken on international attention this month after a U.S. group released an online video calling for LRA leader Joseph Kony to be brought to trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by force.

    Coomaraswamy said that while awareness of the issue and mobilizing young people to act was always good, calling for military action could endanger the lives of children still trapped in the LRA.

    "The last thing we want, and I hope this will not happen, is vigilantism," Coomaraswamy explained.  "We have people in South Sudan picking up a gun and deciding to go and find Joseph Kony.  This kind of thing is crazy. We want national armies who are accountable to the Geneva Convention who are going to go and find Kony."

    She says while the United Nations is looking to delist South Sudan quickly, the U.N. Security Council is moving towards sanctions including arms and travel embargoes and a freeze on assets in countries like Ivory Coast, Somalia, and the DRC - where children are still used as soldiers.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora