300 child released in South Sudan

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Abyei youth hold a demonstrations in Juba

More than 300 former child soldiers in South Sudan have been returned to regular society after spending time in a United Nations rehabilitation program meant to help children who were conscripted into militant groups to reintegrate. The UN has released nearly 2,000 child soldiers so far.

The UN Mission in South Sudan said it had provided peacekeeping troops to escort religious leaders into remote bush areas to make contact and negotiate with armed groups.

The children were rescued from the Yambio region, the epicenter of fighting in the South Sudanese Civil War that has raged since late 2013, leading to tens of thousands of casualties and over 3.6 million people displaced.

Putting down weapons and rejoining normal life is just the "beginning of the journey", said the head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, David Shearer.

Case workers with World Vision's reunification and reintegration programme, supported by UNICEF, will help support the children to recover from the violence they have witnessed and re-join society. The children will then be provided with vocational training aimed at improving household income and food security.

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Special attention will be given to the young women and girls, who are likely to have suffered sexual abuse, so that they can rejoin their communities without the stigma associated with such abuse. Over 19,000 children are thought to have been recruited by all sides. "These initiatives will help children have the opportunity to earn income in the future and help them navigate away from returning to the conflict", Loha said. They will later undergo medical screening and psychological counseling.

"The legislature shall be a newly reconstituted national assembly that is made up of 200 members and council of state composed of 50 members bath representing all stakeholders in South Sudan", proposed the group. Some children as young as 10 years old have been recruited despite global human rights law prohibiting the use of children under 18 in hostilities.

Since the conflict began, 17,000 child soldiers have been conscripted into the conflict, UNICEF reported in March 2017. They would shoot at it [and] they would burn it.

They said repeated violations of ceasefire agreements and the president's decision to create 28 new states from the initial 10, partly explain why the full implementation of the ARCSS failed.

UNmiss said it was involved in projects to release child soldiers in Morobo, Bentiu and Pibor - where 315 have been verified and registered so far - in the coming months.

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