Make child recruitment into the army a serious war crime in South Sudan

Posted: March 10, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Deng Vanang, Dares Salaam, Tanzania

March 10, 2018 (SSB) — With fire having its woods to light it, so is any civil conflict having its fodders to keep it alive and furious.

These fodders are naïve and ambitious children wishing to be part of the brighter future as promised by warlords, while marketed by many of their foot soldiers traversing every nook and cranny they can find unsuspecting victims.

Story recently appearing on Sudan tribune popular website in the past two days talked of the same thing.

Faces of children as young as 10 years old graced the front page headline of that online news site.  One faction in South Sudan on going brutal civil war is accusing the other of recruiting children in sprawling Ethiopian camps South Sudanese refugees are sheltered.

Bluntly say South Sudan government is accusing the rebel SPLM/A-IO of the said mal-practice.

Something commendable the former informed the world of the wrong the latter is doing which it has already denied ever since the story spewed out.

Though the same accusing finger is not bereft of similar unorthodox tactics its rival is perpetuating against it.

The accusation and counter accusation come in earnest as either of two rival camps launches an offensive or prepares to hold military advance of the other in the run up to make or break third round of peace talks in Addis, Ethiopia.

Such information is nonetheless common knowledge whenever South Sudan many conflicts erupt.

It dates back to the war of independence between it and the North, now separate independent states.

The scenario has simply become part and parcel of an embedded war culture much as it happens in other parts of Africa and the world.

The difference is only that UN condones the said child recruitment into war syndicate in the two Sudans, while it abhors the same in other countries not far from common borders.

One among them is DR Congo where ethnic militia commanders, including one Thomas Lubanga, are currently incarcerated in The Hague – based International Criminal Court, ICC as they face pressed charges of heinous war crimes against humanity.

It is saddening there are people hell-bent on marketing death to the innocent children of the poor families and yet can’t do the same to their own kind.

Instead, their children are now school going in most expensive facilities in the neighboring countries and beyond.

Sheltered, fed, educated and clothed expensively at the expense of these poor children’s lives and future they are busy ferrying into their hellish inferno.

Courtesy of the loots from ransacked towns, sold out relief food aid humanitarian agencies graciously deliver and money for ransom they ill-acquire from each other released war captives.

Something points to how far the war has become a big business to its lords, while a misery to its trapped and fleeing pawns.

Which also reminds us of certain twist of favoritism in war crimes practices in South Sudan that happened when this war started five years ago.

In fateful December, 2013 something that lives to trouble morale psyche for many years to come occurred.

While the pro-government ethnic militias commanders were rounding up innocent members of targeted ethnic group in Juba for mass slaughter, two sons of ring leaders accused of stage -managed coup, then on the run, were spared the same ordeal.

Marauding soldiers on ethnic killing spree who found the duo in the down town hotel than eliminating them as they did to their fellow tribesmen, they made frantic phone calls to President and Chief of General staff on their findings.

Gladly soldiers were told to bring the two without breaking any of their fingernails to the Presidential Palace where they were treated to sumptuous meals and countless crates of beer before being safely whisked to the nearby Airport and off to Nairobi, Kenya.

How do you call this ploy in English? An elite pact.

The author of several books, Deng Vanang, is a graduate of the Catholic University of East Africa in Kenya with a bachelor degree in Philosophy and political sciences. He got awarded with undergraduate diploma in public relations and management at Kenya school of exports and imports in Kenya. And in later years secured a post-graduate diploma in print media journalism from the University of Nairobi as well as a post-graduate diploma in peace and development studies at the University of Juba, among several short courses certificates in both information and governance from East African region and Republic of South Africa. He once served in SPLM/A during the war of liberation as political commissar and other political groupings in the post-war period. He became a Director in GoSS’ Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in Juba until 2010 while serving as the columnist with various newspapers before and after the December 2013 conflict erupted. He can be reached via his email:

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