South Sudan armed groups release 200 child soldiers
File. Some of the South-Sudan child Soldiers
London, April 18, 2018 (AltAfrika)-The United Nations Children’s Agency Unicef said on Wednesday that armed groups in South Sudan have released more than 200 child soldiers as part of an agreement that would see almost 1,000 children released over the next few months.
The 112 boys and 95 girls were serving in the ranks of the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO).
SSNLM in 2016 signed a peace agreement with the government and is now integrating its fighters into the national army.
Tuesday’s release is part of a ongoing programme that saw 300 children set free in February.
UNICEF said the children were released in a ceremony in a village in the state of Western Equatorial.
The UN agency said they would the children fighters would undergo counselling and vocational training as part of the reintegration programme into civilian life.
“No child should ever have to pick up a weapon and fight,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan.
It was the second such release, after more than 300 children were released in February.
South Sudan, founded in 2011, is the world’s youngest country.
In 2013, a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar triggered a civil war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people.
Several peace agreements have been signed, none of them have held.
According to UNICEF, there are still 19,000 child soldiers in South Sudan.