Specifically, the president has waived more than $20 million in Direct Commercial Sales, $773,000 in International Military Education and Training, and more than $227 million in Peacekeeping Operations assistance. The U.S. president has never denied South Sudan any arms sales or military assistance due to CSPA prohibitions.
According to the U.S. State Department, government and opposition forces in South Sudan are believed to have recruited more than 19,000 children for use as soldiers since the country’s civil war began in 2013. Experts estimate that there were between 7,000 and 19,000 child soldiers in South Sudan as of February 2021. Government forces – including the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) – as well as allied militias that have received government support – including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLM/A-N) – have all recruited and used child soldiers. The SSPDF, SSNPS, and allied militias continued to recruit and use child soldiers as of March 2021. South Sudanese government forces use children to fight and perpetuate violence against other children and civilians, serve as bodyguards, staff checkpoints, and in other security support roles.
In a 2018 peace agreement, the South Sudanese government and other warring parties committed to “refrain from” the “recruitment and/or use of child soldiers by armed forces or militias in contravention of international conventions.” The government also signed a U.N. Action Plan in February 2020 to end and prevent all grave violations against children. Between April 2020 and March 2021, the government cooperated with an international organization to demobilize and release approximately 189 child soldiers and required an age assessment as part of its enlistment procedures. However, as of March 2021, South Sudanese security forces had yet to fully implement the 2020 action plan to demobilize child soldiers currently within their ranks, and many SSPDF officers did not meet their annual training requirements to increase their awareness of international standards and obligations around the recruitment and use of child soldiers. In addition, the government has yet to hold members of the SSPDF or SSNPS criminally or administratively accountable for the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
For more information, see the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report and Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. More information on the situation in South Sudan can also be found in the U.N. Secretary-General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict and country-specific report on South Sudan.