According to the U.S. State Department, Sudanese government armed forces – including the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and Popular Defense Forces (PDF) – as well as allied militias that have received government support – including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) – are all alleged to have recruited and used child soldiers. The RSF reportedly recruited 87 children aged 14 to 17 as recently as May 2019 to disperse anti-government crowds. Many children lack documents verifying their age, a fact that is exploited by armed groups to recruit and retain child soldiers. According to the U.S. State Department, the Sudanese government has made substantial efforts to end child soldier use and recruitment by implementing a U.N. Action Plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, which Sudan signed in March 2016. In 2018, UNICEF reported that Sudan had increased the transparency of its reporting, allowed UNICEF to conduct verification and monitoring visits to RSF and SAF facilities to identify and demobilize child soldiers, improved its processes for identifying and providing care to child soldiers from rebel groups, and increased anti-trafficking training for judicial and law enforcement officials. However, allegations of continued child soldier use by the Sudanese government and its aligned forces have persisted in recent years, though the use of child soldiers continues to be difficult to verify due to lack of access in conflict zones.
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 Sudan can also be found in the U.N. Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict’s annual report and country-specific report on Sudan.