15 child soldiers released in South Sudan
Government committed to implement action plan signed in 2019 to ensure no child is allowed to serve in army, says official
JUBA, South Sudan
South Sudan’s military has released 15 child soldiers associated with armed forces and armed groups , UNICEF said in a statement.
The children aged between 16 to 18 were taken as prisoners of war during clashes between the government forces and rebels -- headed by former army chief Paul Malong Awan -- in Northern Bar El Ghazal in 2019.
Maj. Gen Chaplain Khamis, the head of the Child Protection Unit of the South Sudan’s military, said the government is committed to implement the action plan signed last year to ensure no child is allowed to serve in the army.
“With the establishment of a new unity government in South Sudan and hopefully prolonged peace, we have a golden opportunity to ensure there are no children left in the barracks,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan.
“There are no shortcuts in reintegration if we are serious about preventing re-enrollment and ensuring a new direction in life,” Ayoya added.
The released children will receive psychological support at an interim care center and their most immediate needs will be addressed there, according to the UNICEF statement.
“The children will be reunified with their immediate family as soon as UNICEF and partners are able to locate them. Where families are not found, foster families are arranged while the search for their family continues,” it added.
For 2020, UNICEF has appealed for $4.2 million to support the release of some 2,100 children associated with armed forces and armed groups and the continuation of the reintegration program for formerly and newly released children in South Sudan.
UNICEF estimates that tens of thousands of boys and girls under the age of 18 are used in conflicts worldwide. Many have been taken by force, while others join due to economic or social pressure.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.