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Child Protection International

Child Protection International (CPI) began in response to one incident in a remote town of Southern Sudan. In October 2007, University of Minnesota graduate student Gabriel Kou Solomon learned that his two nieces, Yar and Ajak Mading were violently abducted by armed men during a cattle raid on their village. Students affiliated with the Human Rights Program joined together to advocate for the rescue of the two girls by launching the Save Yar Campaign. The campaign has grown into an international non-governmental organization (NGO).

CPI works to end systematic child abduction and address its root causes. The organization is guided by international human rights standards, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It affirms a children's rights to not be separated from his or her parents against their will nor deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily; to preserve his or her identity, nationality, name and family relations without unlawful interference; and to be protected from sexual and economic exploitation. In accordance with the Convention, CPI holds states accountable for undertaking all appropriate measures to implement children's rights and to prevent the abduction of, the sale of, or trafficking of children for any purpose or in any form. CPI's advocacy for improving the security of children emphasizes:

  1. Enforcement: We identify governmental bodies responsible for protecting the rights of children and their parents and we call on them to do so without delay. We identify and leverage resources to support governmental and nongovernmental initiatives to uphold those rights and protect the safety of children and their families.
  2. Awareness: We independently research overlooked patterns of child abduction and disseminate findings to international and local actors to raise awareness of these situations. We seek and form partnerships with other organizations to increase reliable research on such under-examined patterns.
  3. Development: We acknowledge that conflict and poverty are aggravating factors in child abduction, and we advocate for development assistance for the affected communities.

CPI success includes:

  • Drew attention to the relatively unknown patterns of child abduction in South Sudan and emphasized the unique affront to human rights and the destabilizing ripple effects upon the region.
  • Influencing action by South Sudanese and U.S. officials.
  • Conducting a fact-finding trip to Juba, South Sudan
    • Using the information learned during this trip to pressure leaders to examine the underlying causes of violations of children's rights and to seek possible solutions.
    • Notably, Solomon met with two top presidential advisers and held multiple interviews with Governor Juuk of Jonglei state, the epicenter of this intertribal child abduction. In conversations with Solomon, the Governor emphasized the challenges facing law enforcement and the urgent need for paved roads and walkie talkies which would make policing the area easier. The Campaign carried forward these requests balanced with a call for development aid targeting the poverty and illness that fuel the conflicts behind child abduction
  • Developed a campaign to encourage universal birth registration in South Sudan
  • Six CPI representatives carried out a fact-finding mission in July 2010 to investigate why so many Southern Sudanese refugee youth, in the United States, were subject to juvenile delinquency proceedings and detention.

Much work remains in untangling the many social and economic problems that contribute to child abduction.