New life for 207 former child soldiers in South Sudan: UNICEF
More than 200 children who had been serving with armed groups in South Sudan were released on Tuesday, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported.
The 112 boys and 95 girls were formally disarmed and provided with civilian clothes during a ceremony in a rural community in Western Equatoria State.
Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, stated that “no child should ever have to pick up a weapon and fight”, adding that “for every child released, today marks the start of a new life”.
The youngsters will undergo medical screenings in addition to being given counselling and psychosocial support to help with their reintegration.
They also will receive vocational training and their families will be provided with three months’ worth of food assistance.
This marked the second release of children in a series supported by UNICEF, which will see almost 1,000 youngsters released in the coming months.
However, UNICEF pointed out that 19,000 children are still serving in armed groups in the country.
Global plan seeks to strengthen protection of internally displaced people
With multiple crises forcing millions of people away from their homes, UN agencies, Governments and partners have launched a set of measures to step up efforts to prevent and resolve internal displacement.
The three-year plan of action also calls for strengthening the participation of internally displaced persons in decisions that concern them, and to improve data collection and analysis on displacement globally, among other proposals.
UN data shows that more than 40 million people were displaced within their own countries by the end of 2016, while an additional 24 million were driven from their homes due to disasters.
Furthermore, it is estimated 15 million people are displaced every year by development projects.
Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said “addressing the protection needs of the forcibly displaced and seeking solutions to their plight contribute to greater stability for countries and whole regions”.
He stressed that “the consequences of our failure to resolve internal displacement can be devastating”.
Food industry urged to improve access to healthier products
The global food industry is being urged to provide consumers with better access to fresh produce and other nutritious items as a means to tackle undernutrition, mineral deficiencies and rising obesity.
The request comes in a UN-backed policy brief that calls for action to improve diets as people shift away from traditional foods towards ultra-processed foods, fats and sugars.
The result has been mineral and vitamin deficiencies, as well as overweight and obesity, particularly in low- to middle-income countries.
The brief was published by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition in partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It said that “with the health burden associated with poor diets already affecting one in three of the global population and the prospect of this rising to one in two in the decades ahead, policymakers and the private sector cannot afford inaction”.
The brief advocates a “partnership approach” between Governments, donors, the private sector and international organizations to tackle the issue.