Sudan: UN envoy on children in conflict to visit Darfur to address violations
The top United Nations envoy on children and armed conflict will travel to Sudan on Friday for a week-long visit that will include trips to the strife-torn Darfur region where she will discuss greater protection for the youngest victims of the violence, which has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people since 2003 and forced at least 2 million others to flee their homes.
UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy will visit from 26 January to 1 February at the Sudanese Government’s invitation, and she will be accompanied by the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Deputy Executive Director, Rima Salah.
“The objective of this field mission is to ascertain first hand the situation with a view to collaborating with all the stakeholders to ensure greater protection for children affected by the conflict,” her office said in a press release. “Ms. Coomaraswamy will engage in a constructive dialogue with the Government of Sudan on these important issues.”
She will also meet with “non-State parties to the conflict in the effort to address grave violations against children,” undertaking visits in Southern Sudan and in Northern and Western Darfur.
Ms. Coomaraswamy, a lawyer by training, was appointed as Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict last April. She serves as an independent advocate to build awareness and give prominence to the rights and protection of boys and girls affected by armed conflict.
With deadly violence continuing in Darfur, yesterday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Sudanese Government he was deeply concerned about its recent wave of aerial bombardments in the region. He also said he expects a swift inquiry into an incident last Friday in which 20 people, including five UN staff, taking part in a social gathering in the war-torn region were arrested and assaulted.