The Dal-hosted Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative is bringing its world-leading prevention oriented approach to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers to South Sudan with the awarding of a $3 million grant from Global Affairs Canada. This grant was announced on February 12, the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.
“Our experience and approach to protecting children from their recruitment and use as soldiers across the African continent and beyond make the Dallaire Initiative uniquely equipped to bring a progressive elimination approach to the challenging environment that is South Sudan” says Shelly Whitman, executive director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative.
The current crisis in South Sudan has seen massive and widespread use of child soldiers by all parties to the conflict resulting in the country being listed as a state violator on the 2016 UN SRSG’s report on Children and Armed Conflict.
The project will seek to protect girls and boys in South Sudan from recruitment and use as child soldiers by working with security actors — such as the national forces and UN peacekeepers — as well as civil society actors to strengthen strategies to protect children becoming weapons of war. This will be accomplished through training and sensitization activities undertaken by Dallaire Initiative staff with local partners that aims to change attitudes and behaviours with respect to the use of children as weapons of war.
The Government of Canada’s commitment to this project and the prioritization of the protection of children are reflective of the commitment made at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver in November 2017. At this conference, the Dallaire Initiative and the Government of Canada launched a new set of global standards called the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers.
Read also: Changing the way peacekeeping is done: Dallaire Initaitive helps launch Vancouver Principles (November 16, 2017)
Work undertaken in South Sudan will be based on the Dallaire Initiative’s pioneer national level model of protecting children from war. Through top down security sector training and bottom up community sensitization and education initiatives, the Dallaire Initiative builds a holistic approach to protecting children from violence, conflict and war — a model that has been developed and trialed in Sierra Leone and now is being implemented in Somalia.
The Dallaire Initiative will seek to facilitate learning and exchanges, and provide training and technical assistance as-needed to develop practical child protection strategies and community-based peacebuilding mechanisms within South Sudan upon the formal launch of activities on April 1. The project will run for a total of three years and be officially completed in 2021.
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