Tags: south sudan | child | soldiers | freed

South Sudan Child Soldiers Freed: 280 Kids to Be Reunited With Families

By    |   Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 01:40 PM

A group of 280 South Sudan child soldiers were freed by a militia there Tuesday in hopes of a larger deal that could see the release of 3,000 more, officials from the United Nationals Children's Fund, or UNICEF, announced.

Unfortunately, child soldiers are commonly recruited to fight in the bitter civil war waged among South Sudanese rebels, according to BBC News. UNICEF officials said they hope the release will help free other children who have been pushed into armed combat.

"These children have been forced to do and see things no child should ever experience,'' Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF's South Sudan representative, told BBC News.

Thousands of children have been forced to take part in fighting since December 2013, according to a statement on the UNICEF website. The agency said the start of the release is part of a peace agreement between Cobra Faction and the SPLA government forces signed in May 2014, which frees all soldiers under 18.

UNICEF said the goal of its role is not only to release the child soldiers but also to foster and reunify them with their families.

"The release of thousands of children requires a massive response to provide the support and protection these children need to begin rebuilding their lives," Veitch told Reuters.

The city war, which is fought around the capital of Juba, pits President Salva Kiir's government against rebels loyal to his former deputy, Riek Machar, according to Reuters. Despite the peace deal signed, clashes have continued between the Murle and Lou Nuer tribes, often spurred by cattle raids and revenge killings.

Reuters said these sporadic clashes have led to hundreds of deaths in recent years.

The United Nations said they are offering counseling and other support services to help children integrate back into their families and communities.

"While the family tracing is underway the children will stay in a compound with an interim care center, until they are reunified with family members," UNICEF stated on its website. "In this case, the group is part of the community so most of the children know where their families are living. In some cases it will take more time to locate family members or extended family and to arrange for the reunification."

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A group of 280 South Sudan child soldiers were freed by a militia there Tuesday in hopes of a larger deal that could see the release of 3,000 more, officials from the United Nationals Children's Fund, or UNICEF, announced.
south sudan, child, soldiers, freed
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2015-40-27
Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 01:40 PM
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