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South Sudan Militia Releases 280 Child Soldiers, Plans to Release 3,000

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Wednesday, January 28, 2015

South Sudan Militia Releases 280 Child Soldiers, Plans to Release 3,000

Nearly 300 child soldiers in South Sudan were released from the militia this week, as the nation plans to release a total of 3,000 child from forced military service. 

Christian Today reports the children, aged 11 to 17, had been part of the South Sudan Democratic Army Cobra Faction. 

The children surrendered their weapons during a ceremony at the village of Gumuruk on Tuesday. 

"These children have been forced to do and see things no child should ever experience," UNICEF South Sudan Representative Jonathan Veitch said in a press release.

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

In 2011, the South Sudan seceded from the north and violence has since escalated. It is estimated that 10,000 people have been killed in the fighting and another 1.9 million have been displaced. About 12,000 children are said to have been recruited to fight.

"Helping them take back their lives must be a priority," said UN Special Representative Leila Zerrougui. "I call on the international community to provide sufficient resources to ensure they have access to the support that will help them heal and return to a peaceful life.

"I urge the Government of South Sudan and the opposition led by Riek Machar to honor their commitments. The release of children in their ranks is long overdue."

The UN is spearheading a campaign to end recruitment of child soldiers by 2016.

Publication date: January 28, 2015