In June 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the United Nations (UN) signed an Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18. Fight for Humanity is one of the UN partners implementing this Action Plan. After several high-level advocacy meetings, Fight for Humanity has conducted its first activities.
Disseminating the content of the Action Plan
Fight for Humanity recently held a first dissemination session on the content and obligations of the UN Action Plan for 100 current and future SDF commanders in their training center in the Hassake region, North East Syria. Five SDF military trainers also attended the session.
As an introduction, Fight for Humanity presented the basics of International Humanitarian Law with a specific focus on the protection of children in armed conflict. Trainers moved on with an interactive session on the content and obligations of the Action Plan, SDF’s responsibilities and Fight for Humanity’s role on the implementation of this Action Plan.
Participants also raised broader protection issues related to children and armed conflict.
Through this Action Plan, the SDF - with the support of the Self-Administration in North East Syria – has committed to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children under 18, to identify and separate boys and girls currently within its ranks and to put in place preventative, protection and disciplinary measures related to child recruitment and use.
A step forward for children in North East Syria
“The SDF took an important step with the signing of the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict” says Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity Co-Director. “Fight for Humanity is currently supporting the implementation of the Action Plan with dissemination and training sessions to all SDF components. The UN Action Plan is a powerful tool and provides a clear framework that all SDF units must respect to protect children in the region.”
The Action Plan covers all SDF branches including the People’s Protection Units (YPG/YPJ), the Self Defense Forces and the Syriac Military Council. This undertaking has a specific significance as the UN released a report earlier this month on the appalling situation of children in Syria.