South Sudan: More than 200 child soliders released

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Two hundred and seven child soldiers have been released by armed groups in South Sudan, part of a series of planned discharges that should see nearly 1,000 children return home over the coming months. 

The move, facilitated by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), follows the release of 300 children by armed groups in early February.

The discharge took place in Bakiwiri, a rural community in Western Equatoria state.

The children will now undergo medical screenings and receive counselling and psychosocial support as part of the reintegration programme, said UNICEF. Once home, they will also have access to vocational training as well as age-specific education services in schools and accelerated learning centres.

Those discharged – 112 boys, 95 girls – were from the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition.

However, despite this release, and the one before it, there are still about19,000 children in use by armed forces and groups in South Sudan. And with conflict lingering in the world’s youngest nation, the risk that children will be used in fighting remains.

Since gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan has spent much of its short life mired in conflict, as what began as a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar erupted into full-blown war late in 2013.

This is a shortened version of an article first published by UN News on 18th April. Read the full story here.

Geographic terms: 

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