World Vision in South Sudan on Sunday called for end to recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups in the country.
The call came on the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, commonly known as “Red Hand Day”.
“Today we must raise a red hand, one more time. Today must be about renewing commitment to stop the grave violation of children’s right. Today must be about standing together in the fight against the use of child soldiers,” Dr. Mesfin Loha, Country Director of World Vision in South Sudan said in a statement issued in Juba.
He noted that between 7,000 and 19,000 children, mostly boys have been recruited and used as soldiers by armed forces and groups since February 2021.
Dr. Loha called on the global community to not forget the children associated in armed conflict.
“World Vision joins the global community, children, and friends of children, in the “Your hand counts” campaign to help to stop this abuse of children,” Loha said.
He said children involved in armed conflicts suffer from debilitating convergence of physical, mental, and social impact.
“Often forced, abducted, or lured into empty promises of a good life and a future, they bear the brunt of harsh conditions, witnessing, and sometimes committing atrocities that no child should see,” Loha said.
Loha said that while boys make the majority of child soldiers, young girls suffer the most as sex slaves, young cooks, and caretakers of those born in the field.
“Despite numerous efforts and some progress to curb the practice, the plight of children recruited into armed conflict remains a serious obstacle to life in all its fullness for thousands of children,” he said.
In January 2023, World Vision’s project in Western Equatoria identified 12 children, 5 girls, and 7 boys associated with armed forces and groups, who are among the 765 children currently receiving psychosocial support.