While regular combat continues to oppose the Sudanese government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), Geneva Call held its first training session for 30 SPLM-N officers and fighters operating in the isolated Blue Nile area. Geneva Call presented the main rules contained in the Deeds of Commitment signed by the SPLM-N and explained the most basic rules of international humanitarian law by using its Fighter not Killer educational material.
Geneva Call also raised the issue of child protection in the conflict, particularly the prohibition on recruiting children under 18. The SPLM-N has been a signatory to Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict since June 2015, however there were several allegations of child recruitment by the SPLM-N before that time.
During the discussions, the SPLM-N leaders in the Blue Nile area reaffirmed that they do not use children in hostilities, however they recognized that there were sometimes difficulties in evaluating the age of new recruits. Geneva Call will keep encouraging the SPLM-N to train its fighters about this rule and to implement an age checking process in military camps, at check points and on the frontline.
Geneva Call also reminded the participants about their obligations related to the Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel (AP) mines (signed by the SPLM-N in 2013) and addressed the issue of the stockpiles reportedly seized by the SPLM-N. Although 211 AP mines from the stock located in South Kordofan were dismantled in December 2014, the stock located in Blue Nile has yet to be destroyed.
“We hope the destruction of this remaining stockpile will happen soon, and we are ready to facilitate it. Destroying a mine means avoiding horrific injuries that disable a survivor for life,” pointed out Fred Meylan, Programme Director for Africa.
In addition to these discussions, Geneva Call also trained civil society actors including humanitarian workers, traditional and religious leaders, on how to support the monitoring of the SPLM-N’s respect of the Deeds of Commitment.
In both the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas, ground fighting and aerial bombardments have recently caused significant internal displacements of populations and increased humanitarian needs. Access to these areas is still restricted, leading to a dramatic lack of basic services and growing food insecurity.