WTI Celebrate World Children's Day in South Sudan
As South Sudan joined the globe in marking the World Children’s Day, children in the country strongly called for more action to safeguard their rights for a better future. The children highlighted some of the plights that are hindering their childhood including early marriage, recruitment into armed forces, sexual and gender-based violence and child labor.
"We, children of South Sudan need attention; thousands of children are enrolled in armed forced and armed groups, 2.8 million are out of school, half of all girls are married before the age of 18,” partly read a petition issued by the children.
The children urged the government, humanitarian organizations, community leaders and parents “to respect us as children instead of abusing us as workers, soldiers, street children and wives...teachers never to use violence against children as schools should be a safe place for children.”
Commemorated annually on the 20th November, the World Children’s Day is aimed at promoting the rights of the child and upholding international action to provide children a safe space. This year, it is celebrated under the theme: “The rights of every children to be a child.”
Despite the presence of legal frameworks, the rights of children in South Sudan are violated.
Thus, Windle Trust International and other partners have joined hands to support efforts to ensure the children of South Sudan enjoy their rights through creating access to quality education and training across to communities affected by conflict, and those who have been marginalized in society.
The conflict in South Sudan has been attributed as one of the major drivers of the violation of children’s rights in South Sudan. Children have been displaced as a result of violence depriving them their rights to education, healthcare, food and other basic needs. In addition, children have been used as child soldiers and associated with armed forces.
“Peace is already there. But as a process it will take time to be fully realized,” emphasized Bullen Amos, the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in Central Equatoria State, who assured the government’s commitment in implementing the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.
In their appeal to the various actors in the country, the children of South Sudan reminded that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. This, they emphasized through the lack of spaces for children to conduct physical activities.
We “ask the government and schools to organize physical education and set up play grounds so that we play and practice sports”, read the petition.
Mr. Amos said that most spaces that are meant for sports have been occupied by people in Juba and other parts of the country:
“When town and cities are planned there are space left for the children to play football, to do all sorts of things because our compound are so narrow that a child or rather a group of children can play. Unfortunately during the crisis, most people came from the rural areas and from the other areas and they are congested in the town of Juba, they have already built in those places which are built for you.”
“But we want to ensure as the government that those structures that are put in those places get removed so that the children can their rights to play,” added Mr. Amos.
The children also called on all actors to take special consideration for children with disabilities and other vulnerable children.
In addition to conflict, poverty and climate change have also contributed immensely to plight of children in the war-torn country, and so the children called on efforts to urgently address issues that affect their rights.
The celebration of the World Children’s Day for this year 2021 was organized by Windle Trust International in partnership with UN children’s agency - UNICEF and the government of South Sudan.