The South Sudan People's Defense Forces (SSPDF) on Monday reiterated its commitment to end the recruitment of children in the national army.
"It has come to our notice that using of children in the armed conflict is a great violation and that is why we always say no to the recruitment of children and that is why the SSPDF committed itself to sign a lot of action plans to eradicate this issue of recruitment and used of children in South Sudan," said Chaplain Khamis Edward, the director of child protection in the SSPDF, in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
He was speaking during celebrations to mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers.
Khamis said that the SSPDF would have eliminated child soldiers within its rank-and-file years ago if the conflict had not broken out in December 2013.
"We would have already cleared out children since 2009 or 2012 but due to some recurrent insecurity in South Sudan that is why we are still talking about issues connected to violations against children in South Sudan," he said.
Oluku Andrew Holt, the national coordinator for the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, called for urgent action to end grave violations against children.
"We in South Sudan are joining the world to urge for support to bring to an end the recruitment and use of children by armed forces or armed groups," Holt said.
Up to 4,000 children associated with armed conflict were released from various armed factions between 2013 and 2022.
The released children were mainly from the former Cobra Faction in Greater Pibor and the South Sudan National Liberation Movement in the Western Equation state, according to the Disarmament Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission.
The government of South Sudan signed an action plan with the United Nations on March 13, 2012, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers within the army.
In February 2020, the government signed the Comprehensive Action Plan to end all six grave violations against children in armed conflict.