Siobhan Mullally, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, expressed serious concerns regarding the increased risk of child recruitment and utilization by armed forces and groups in Sudan. The country has been engulfed in a devastating war since April 15.
The United Nations voiced deep apprehension on October 16, 2023, about potential child recruitment by the military and armed groups in Sudan. Siobhan Mullally, the Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, addressed this issue in Geneva.
Since April 15, the armed forces under General al-Burhan have been clashing with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Hemedti, resulting in disastrous humanitarian consequences.
According to UN teams, children have also become targets of armed individuals. Reportedly, “impoverished or separated children are being targeted by the Rapid Support Forces in the suburbs of Khartoum.” Similar abductions have occurred in other regions, including Darfur and South Kordofan. Siobhan Mullally further indicates that these minors are forcibly recruited by armed groups and forced into combat.
This situation is corroborated by a source close to the Sudanese Doctors’ Union. “In the chaos of the conflict, children find themselves in an extremely vulnerable situation,” he explains.
The UN Special Rapporteur firmly asserts that there should be no mention of voluntary engagements in this context. She emphasizes that the consent of minors holds no value: “Their recruitment represents a blatant violation of human rights and international law.”
The enlistment of children is a long-standing practice in Sudan, as it was observed during the Darfur War (2003-2020) and the Sudanese Independence War.
In 2016, the Sudanese government signed an action plan with the United Nations to put an end to child recruitment within its armed forces.