UN says armed groups release 200 child soldiers in South Sudan

The UN said on Wednesday that armed groups in South Sudan have released more than 200 child soldiers as part of an agreement that will see almost 1,000 children released over the next few months.

UNICEF said the children were disarmed in a ceremony in a village in the state of Western Equatoria .

The UN agency said they will be given counselling and vocational training as part of the reintegration programme
into civilian life.

“No child should ever have to pick up a weapon and fight,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan.

The child soldiers were released by two armed groups: the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition.

It was the second such release, after more than 300 children were released in February.

South Sudan, founded in 2011, is the world’s youngest country.

In 2013, a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar triggered a civil war that has led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of 2.5 million people.

Several peace agreements have been signed, none of them have held.

According to UNICEF, there are still 19,000 child soldiers in South Sudan. (dpa/NAN)