The International United Nations Watch sent a letter to Ms. Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in which Maya Garner, the spokesperson of IUNW noted that the UN’s response to the issue of child soldiers is inadequate with the usage of child mercenaries in countries such as Sudan. “As the international community witnesses an emerging crisis in Sudan and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the UN needs to be in control of the process of de-escalation and proactive damage-control,” the letter read.
The issue of child soldiers around the world has been highlighted by UN humanitarian agencies, including UNICEF’s 2014-2016 Children, Not Soldiers campaign, and by prominent NGO’s, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
“We see the worrying development by the United States in the refusal of the Secretary of States to include Saudi Arabia on its list of countries making use of child soldiers, despite U.S. experts’ findings. Last December, it was brought to international attention that the Saudi war in Yemen had made use of underage soldiers from Darfur. Tens of thousands of Sudanese mercenaries have been used in the fighting in Yemen, many of them children, often in order to support families back in Sudan,” the letter noted.
“As the situation in Sudan deteriorates, the use of Sudanese militias amounts to exploitation of vulnerable Sudanese in a war that is not their own, while robbing vulnerable Sudanese children of their future and contributing to human-trafficking. The refusal of a permanent member of the UN Security Council to recognize this critical situation is a case in which the UN Special Envoys on Sudan must intervene,” the letter urged.
Garner added that “As International UN Watch, we call on the UN to formally recognize the link between child mercenaries used in Sudan and Sudanese child mercenaries used in Yemen. We ask that the UN must respond accordingly in line with universal human rights and the protection of children, and the UN must do more to reign in its member states in contributing to this abuse of Sudanese children’s rights.”
“The UN must take action to ensure that human rights is at the core of its decision-making, and not let the political interests in its member states take priority over universal values and principles. Unfortunately, we see that the UN’s response has been inadequate in preventing the disaster in Yemen; we fear that it will be inadequate in the de- escalation of the crisis in Sudan and in preventing the use of child mercenaries in armed conflicts,” the letter concluded.
IUNW is a Scotland-based NGO that seeks to monitor the work of the UN and its various bodies to make sure member states of the UN abide by its charter and founding principles.