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Sudan: a step towards effective protection of the rights of children in Darfur

13-08-2009 News Release 09/162

Khartoum (ICRC) – The North Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have signed a memorandum of understanding on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of children associated with armed groups in relation to the conflict in Darfur.

The North Sudan commissioner for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, Dr Sulaf Eldeen Salih, hailed the role played by ICRC in reuniting children with their families, especially in remote rural areas of Darfur. " We can count on the ICRC in remote areas that other organizations cannot reach, " he said. " The ICRC has never let us down. "

Since the start of the Darfur conflict, the ICRC and the Sudanese Red Crescent have been working to restore contact between family members separated by the conflict, including children associated with armed groups, and to reunite them with their loved ones.

" Governments need to develop policies that meet the challenges facing rapidly increasing numbers of children associated with armed groups and to ensure effective protection of the rights of children, " said Jordi Raich, the ICRC's head of delegation in Sudan. " The ICRC urges armed groups to comply with the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits in all circumstances the direct participation in hostilities and the compulsory recruitment of persons under the age of 18 years. "

Mr Raich said that the signing of the memorandum of understanding represents an important step in the right direction. " It is especially noteworthy that it coincides with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the four Geneva Conventions, " he said. " The memorandum can be considered an anniversary gift to the children of Darfur. "

  For further information, please contact:
  Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Khartoum, tel: +249 1 83 476 464 or +249 91 213 77 64