By Adia Jildo
The Director for child protection in South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) Major General Chaplain Khamis Edward has refuted reports of violation on protection of children rights, saying the accusation aroused during the conflicts in the country.
According to the report from the United Nations Secretary General on children and armed conflicts (S/2020/1205), South Sudan was listed for disregarding five grave violations such as rape, and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospital, recruitment of children into the army, abduction, killing and maiming.
Maj. Gen. Khamis however argued that some of the information gathered on the recruitment of children into the army were due to presence of children who were harboured in the barracks which are out of context.
‘Maybe some of these things especially recruitment, we cannot call it recruitment because they allow children to stay in the Barracks,” he protested.
He said such information were taken when the United Nations paid visits to barracks and group it under recruitment or associated.
The SSPDF Director of child protection further said the reported incidents of killing and maiming happened as a result of cross fire and might have happened without the notice of the army commanders.
“When these are found that it is a child, it’s written against the forces operating in the area. Blames always goes to the army. It’s not the duty of the military alone. Let’s join hands together so that children can be kept where they are supposed to be. Other things happen because the children were not kept well by the parents,” he said.
He said when there is conflict, other things go out of hand mostly during conflict time, adding that even the commanders cannot know what is happening on the other side under his control.
The SSPDF officer called on members of the army to work together and protect the rights of children in the country.
He said that all organized forces should work together in order to clear their names and be de-listed from the report regarding violation of children’s rights.
Besides, the army general called on the parents to take care of their children, and keep them away from barracks as it is a collective responsibility of everyone to protect the child.
“When children stay in barracks, they get free food, they stay there and don’t want to return home,” he underlined.