Sudan: United Nations Expert Raises Concerns Over Involvement of Armed Forces in Child Recruitment


An expert on human rights from the United Nations expressed deep concern about the escalating risk of children being recruited and used by armed forces and armed groups in Sudan. Siobhán Mullally, the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, drew attention to the fact that unaccompanied children and children from impoverished families have become targets of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia in various locations, including the outskirts of the capital city Khartoum. She emphasized that women and children are being forcibly recruited, and there have been reports of girls being abducted from Khartoum to Darfur for sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.

Ms. Mullally stressed that the deteriorating humanitarian situation and limited access to essential services have made children, especially those who are alone or separated from their families, vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups. She firmly stated that the recruitment of children, regardless of the purpose, is a severe violation of human rights, a grave crime, and a breach of international humanitarian law.

Addressing the possibility of children joining armed groups out of necessity for survival, Ms. Mullally emphasized that a child’s consent, regardless of age, is legally insignificant, and the use of force does not need to be proven. She expressed her concern regarding the lack of humanitarian access to children in conflict zones. She called upon all parties involved in the conflict to resume peace negotiations and establish a comprehensive ceasefire agreement, which would enable the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and ensure accountability for alleged violations.

To combat these urgent concerns and provide effective protection to child victims and children at risk, especially those who are displaced, unaccompanied, separated, refugees, or have disabilities, Ms. Mullally emphasized the need for immediate action to prevent child trafficking.

Siobhán Mullally serves as an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. As a Special Rapporteur, she belongs to the UN’s Special Procedures, a group responsible for monitoring and reporting on specific thematic issues or country situations. These experts work in their personal capacity, are not UN staff members, and do not receive salaries.