boys will be boys – South Sudan finally responds to child soldiers’ epidemic

Can you imagine your little brother, son or nephew forcefully taken from school and whisked straight into the military?

More so, there’s nothing you could do about it because he was forcefully taken from the government? This is the reality of families in areas of South Sudan. 11 000  boys are currently stripped from their childhood and plastered with guns and cold hearts to ‘defend their tribe’.

With the country being only 3 years old in independence, South Sudan’s government openly used child soldiers amidst wars with the opposition in Bentiu and Rubkona mid August this year.

Earlier this month BBC news reported an estimated 11 000 children as young as 12 were coercively recruited to fight battle of both sides of the civil war; huddled from classes and homes. children who refused to become child soldiers paid in the price of death. today, living child soldiers are survivors of thousands that got killed and are victims of rape, being maimed, displaced and orphaned.

Although the crisis was ongoing since December 15th 2013, the government  made a tangible progress to end recruiting these children. The progress includes issuing command orders to stop recruitment and use of children within the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), undertaking joint verification visits with the United Nations to SPLA barracks, and regular training of SPLA troops.

Photo Courtesy of Unicef

Photo Courtesy of Unicef

Therefor, in order to ensure that South Sudan doesn’t backslide on its mission to ensure children stay children, the government partnered with UNMISS Child Protection Unit and Unicef in the #ChildrenNotSoldiers campaign. This campaign launched earlier today, as a renewed commitment to end the recruitment and use of children by Government security forces. Hopefully,  UNMISS Child Protection Unit, SPLA Unicef and governments joint commitment will soon allow the boys of South Sudan to be boys.