South Sudan Launches Manual To Offer Psycho-social Support To Ex-Child Soldiers

South Sudan Launches Manual To Offer Psycho-social Support To Ex-Child Soldiers

JUBA, Sudan, Sept 28 (NNN-SUNA) – South Sudan launched its first manual to offer psycho-social support services, to help rehabilitate and reintegrate thousands of former child soldiers during the five-year conflict.

Jean Lieby, Chief of Child Protection of UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) , said, the facilitator manual of psycho-social support activities and trainers guide will help them reach 150,000 out of one million former child soldiers, including girls, this year alone.

“Over one million children are estimated to experience psychological distress in South Sudan. Currently with its partners, UNICEF is implementing psycho-social support in child friendly spaces in communities and schools across the country,” Lieby told journalists.

He disclosed that the template has been produced specifically for teachers and facilitators.

“It is not a learning tool in schools, it’s a tool to help children to behave better and also have a better sense on how to deal with the difficulties they met, during the past difficult events of the conflict,” added Lieby.

The manual will not only be instructed in English but also in Arabic and seven other local languages.

He said, the manual and guide will be used across the country, to improve the quality of psycho-social support and services and ensure child protection minimum standards are met, as South Sudan has dearth of qualified psychologists.

“Children associated with armed forces are mainly seen as child soldiers, however, girls were also associated with armed forces and groups in large numbers, as domestics, fetching firewood, water, cooking, carrying supplies and also being sexually abused,” said Lieby.

He disclosed that since 2014, one out of 10 children released was a girl, adding that, humanitarian organisations find some difficulties in identifying girls within the armed groups because few girls want to be identified for being released in fear of stigmatisation during the public release ceremonies.

Regina Ossa Lullo, acting undersecretary in the Ministry of Gender Child and Social Welfare lauded the manual, as it will support several children in distress, including street children and female headed families.

Peter Garang Ngor, director of operations for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (DDRC), said, the initiative will go a long way in helping them demobilise and reintegrate former child soldiers.

“This guideline has come at the right time while we are approaching the formation of the transitional unity government (TGoNU) on Nov 12. This one will make everyone who wants to move and assess where the girls or children associated with armed groups are.”

Since the outbreak of conflict in Dec, 2013, UNICEF has aided the release of some 3,100, out of a total of 19,000 children estimated to be active with various armed groups in South Sudan.

In early Aug, child soldiers totalling 128, including 90 boys and 38 girls, were released from a disbanded rebel group in Yambio, located in South Sudan’s southern region of Western Equatoria.

UNICEF requires 45 million U.S. dollars to support release, demobilisation and reintegration of 19,000 children over the next three years.– NNN-SUNA


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