SecretaryGeneral calls for greater protection of children in Sudan

In a report released today, the Secretary-General details the abuse of children during the armed conflict, which has continued despite the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in May. He strongly urges the leaders of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan to end child recruitment.“The current peace processes in Darfur and southern Sudan offer a real opportunity for the leaders of the Sudan to end the practice of recruitment and use of children once and for all.”Mr. Annan also details the recruitment, killing and rape of children by various parties, ranging from the Janjaweed militias and rebel groups in Darfur to Chadian opposition forces and the Lord’s Resistance Army. While individual commanders of armed groups bear responsibility for grave violations by their forces, Mr. Annan says that the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan are also directly accountable for violations by individuals under their command.“This responsibility of the Government must be stressed, particularly in the present context of shifting alliances and arrangements in the Sudan,” he says in the report.The Secretary-General adds that he is deeply concerned about the increase in sexual violence against girls and women, particularly in Darfur, as well about reports of the systematic abduction and kidnapping of children there. He also expresses his deep concern over the continued lack of access in many areas of Sudan for child protection activities, particularly in the east. In other news, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) says it has successfully completed a community-driven voluntary disarmament exercise, the first of its kind. According to UNMIS, residents in the southern state of Jonglei handed in roughly 1,250 weapons between 14 July and 30 July. The Government of Southern Sudan says it plans to carry out the peaceful disarmament program throughout all of Jonglei.