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South Sudan: UN officials welcome launch in of campaign to end use of child soldiers

South Sudan: UN officials welcome launch in of campaign to end use of child soldiers

India Blooms News Service | | 30 Oct 2014, 12:23 pm
New York, Oct 30 (IBNS) The United Nations stands ready to support the Government of South Sudan in its renewed commitment to end the recruitment and use of children in the army, top UN officials declared on Wednesday as the Organization launched a new initiative in the country.

“It’s encouraging to see that the Government is taking steps to protect the country’s children and the United Nations will continue to support them,” said Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in a message read during the launch of the Children, Not Soldiers campaign in South Sudan.

“Everyone in South Sudan must know that children have a right to be protected, especially in times of war,” she added in the message.

The campaign in South Sudan is led jointly by  Zerrougui, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the support of other partners. It is part of a larger, global campaign that aims to end the recruitment and use of children by Government security forces in armed conflict by the end of 2016.

Six other countries are currently part of a global campaign that was launched this past March, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The countries have been working on signing Action Plans with the UN that detail concrete actions to be taken in support of children involved in armed conflict.

Speaking at on Wednesday’s ceremony in South Sudan, Garang Mausoleum, Co-chair of the Country Task Force of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and Representative of UNICEF South Sudan, underscored the importance of the Government’s recommitment this past June to end the recruitment and use of children by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

“War and conflict is not children’s play,”  Mausoleum said. “Using children in conflict has a devastating impact on their lives. These young boys, and sometimes girls, see things that no child should ever see,” he added.

In June, the Government of South Sudan formally signed its Recommitment to the Action Plan – first signed in 2009 by the SPLA – that outlines 18 measures the SPLA needs to put in place to make its army free of child soldiers and to end grave violations against children in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.

As part of the Recommitment, the United Nations, the National Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission and partners will support and assist in the identification, verification and release of children associated with the SPLA. Children will be given psycho-social services, educational and vocational training and other services aimed at allowing them to resume life in their communities.

“Now the real work begins. The commitments have to translate into action,” said Ellen Margrethe Løj, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan. “We look forward to assisting children as they return to their families, their friends and to their education.”

In preparation for the campaign’s launch, the Government issued punitive orders for the SPLA to stop deploying children, disseminating radio messages by the Ministry of Defence and submitting legislative amendments to the Ministry of Justice to apply sanctions to the recruitment of children by army commanders.

“The Government of South Sudan will no longer allow children to join the military,” said Kuol Manyang Juuk, Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs in a statement. “Children should be learning how to read and write, not carry weapons – we know education will make us better as a nation,” he noted.

Schoolchildren in South Sudan singing during the national launch of the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers.” Photo: UNMISS

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm