South Sudan: More than 300 child soldiers released

South Sudan: More than 300 child soldiers released

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. In the past, nearly 2,000 child soldiers have been rehabilitated and released - more than 10 percent of whom were under 13 years old.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) welcomed the release of the former child soldiers saying it expected to see at least 700 children freed in the coming weeks. They were officially disarmed and provided with civilian clothes as well as medical screenings.

The move was hailed as an important first move towards the release of tens of thousands of child soldiers believed to be fighting in the country's civil war.

Since the conflict began, 17,000 child soldiers have been conscripted into the conflict, UNICEF reported in March 2017.

According to the United Nations mission, out of the 700 children screened and registered for release in phases, 563 belong to the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) rebel group and 137 others were associated with the Sudan People's Liberation Army In-Opposition (SPLA-IO).

Newly released child soldiers stand with rifles during their release ceremony in Yambio, South Sudan.

Of the total number, 563 were from the South Sudan National Liberation Movement and 137 from the Sudan People's Liberation Army In-Opposition.

Cold sweat ran down Daniel's back when - at age 14 - he was first handed a heavy gun and ordered to kill.

UNIECF warned that an entire generation of children is at risk as they face death, injury, hunger, disease, recruitment, forced displacement and absence of education. The UN Children's Fund requires US$45 million in 2018 to support release, demobilization and reintegration efforts across the country.

"These are boys and girls who worked directly with armed groups in a number of different ways that included active involvement in the conflict, as well as domestic work", Mesfin Loha, National Director of World Vision South Sudan said in a separate statement.

"They dragged me to the bush by force and told me I was one of them".

The former Labour leader is now the head of the United Nations mission in starvation hit South Sudan. Then they would come and take the auto.

UNMISS led the six month project which involved escorting religious leaders to negotiate with the armed groups.

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