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JUBA - 17 Mar 2023

UN report faults gov’t, opposition forces for grave violations against children in South Sudan

A report by the UN Secretary-General to the UN Security Council titled “Children and armed conflict in South Sudan” has revealed severe abuses against children in the country.

The report submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions on children and armed conflict, is the fourth report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in South Sudan and covers the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2022.

The report documents the effects of conflict on children in South Sudan, highlighting trends and patterns of the six grave violations against children, namely the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children, rape, and other forms of sexual violence against children, attacks on schools, hospitals and protected persons in relation to schools and or hospitals, the abduction of children and denial of humanitarian access.

According to the report, the country task force verified 457 grave violations against 409 children (287 boys, 114 girls, and 8 of unknown sex). Of these, 60 violations occurred between 1 July and 31 December 2020, 168 in 2021, and 183 between 1 January and 30 June 2022.

“The remaining 46 violations occurred in earlier periods and lasted until the reporting period. A spike in violations was verified between July 2021 and June 2022, due partly to prevailing pockets of armed conflict resulting from defections and the splintering of parties to the conflict and partly to improved conditions for monitoring and reporting on grave violations enabled by the formation of the necessary unified forces,” the report read. “A total of 23 children (3 boys and 20 girls) were affected by multiple violations, including 16 girls who were abducted and raped, 2 girls who were raped and killed, and 3 boys who were abducted and recruited and used. Two girls were subjected to three violations each, namely abduction, recruitment and use, and rape and other forms of sexual violence.”

The country task force late-verified 11 grave violations against 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls) that occurred before the reporting period, including the maiming of 2 boys, rape and other forms of sexual violence against 5 girls, and the abduction of 4 girls.

“Over 35 percent of the violations were attributed to government security forces (167), namely SSPDF (153), the South Sudan National Police Service (13), and the South Sudan National Wildlife Service (1).

Some 196 violations, nearly 45 percent of the total, were perpetrated by armed groups, namely SPLA-IO (79), the National Salvation Front (28), forces loyal to General Nando (27), forces loyal to General Lokujo (26), the SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction (18), NPAM (12) and SSOA (6),” the report said. “A total of 21 violations remained unattributed as they were committed by unidentified perpetrators (11) or resulted from crossfire incidents (10). Explosive remnants of war, which remained the leading cause of killing and maiming of children, were responsible for 69 child casualties.”
Violations were verified in Unity (144), Central Equatoria (84), Western Equatoria (76), Lakes (39), Upper Nile (35), Western Bahr el-Ghazal (26), Jonglei (25), Northern Bahr el-Ghazal (15), Eastern Equatoria (5) and Warrap (4).

The recruitment and use of children was the most verified grave violation, accounting for 39 percent of the total, followed by killing and maiming at 25 percent and rape and other forms of sexual violence at 17 percent. Attacks on schools and hospitals decreased by 50 percent compared with the previous reporting period.

“The killing and maiming of 117 children (91 boys, 25 girls, and 1 of unknown sex) was verified. Of these, 24 child casualties occurred between July and December 2020, in 2021, and the first half of 2022. The children were between 2 and 17 years old.” It read. “The violations were attributed to SSPDF (29), the National Salvation Front (5), SPLA-IO (3), and the SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction (1). Ten children were maimed during crossfire between SSPDF and armed youths (3), SPLA-IO and armed youths (2), SSPDF and the National Salvation Front (2), SSPDF and SPLA-IO (1), SPLA-IO and forces loyal to General Nando (1) and SPLA-IO and the SPLA-IO Kitgwang faction (1). The killing and maiming of 69 children remained unattributed as it was caused by explosive remnants of war. Most children were killed and maimed in Unity State (36), predominantly owing to attacks on villages and during crossfire between armed forces and groups.”

“The remaining violations occurred in Central Equatoria (19), Lakes (16), Northern Bahr el-Ghazal (15), Jonglei (12), Upper Nile (7), Eastern Equatoria (5), Western Equatoria (4) and Warrap (3),” the report added.