Unamid campaigns against recruiting child soldiers in West Darfur camp
The Child Protection Unit of the AU-UN peacekeeping mission has launched a campaign in Murnei camp for displaced people, in West Darfur, to raise awareness about ending the use of child soldiers by armed forces.
The campaign falls under the theme 'No Child Soldiers - Protect Darfur' and is part of Unamid's drive aimed at preventing children from taking part in armed conflict across Darfur. Some 68 participants from the camp attended the event, including women and youth groups, children and community leaders.
Child Protection Officers from the Mission briefed the displaced community about the seriousness of violating children’s rights. Community members were urged to discourage children below 18 years from enlisting them into armed forces, armed groups or participating in inter-communal clashes. Furthermore, they were sensitised on the need to report any forms of abuse or violation of child rights to child protection officers and local authorities for investigation.
“Poverty is one of the key drivers of child recruitment into armed forces or armed groups in Darfur,” said Zeinab Ahmed Haroun, speaking on behalf of women in the camp. She further raised concerns about the increasing number of street children in the camp and noted that this cannot be adequately addressed in the absence of the international NGOs active in their community. Her concerns were echoed by Bedur Mohammed, a youth leader and teacher at the camp, who appealed to Unamid to advocate for the return of such international non-governmental organisations in the area, in order to support the provision of humanitarian assistance, which, he said, has not been forthcoming in the past eight months.
“This campaign aims to ensure that children are afforded an opportunity to grow and attend school,” stated Amna Adam, Child Protection Officer, Unamid Sector West. The unit handed out jackets with messages that promote the protection of children and discourage the recruitment of children into armed groups and armed forces, as well as copies of the definition of a child soldier, according to the Paris Principles of 2007 in Arabic.
The Mission's Child Protection Unit plans to introduce similar campaigns at all displaced persons camps and among conflict-affected communities in West Darfur, a press statement on the website of Unamid reads.
One month ago the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) renewed a command order prohibiting the recruitment and use of children in its ranks, a move welcomed by the Mission.
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