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311 child soldiers freed in S

09 February 2018

The UN mission in South Sudan - headed by former Labour leader David Shearer - has released more than 300 former child soldiers in the city of Yambio yesterday.

Cold sweat ran down Daniel's back when - at age 14 - he was first handed a heavy gun and ordered to kill. They were officially disarmed and provided with civilian clothes as well as medical screenings.

The United Nations has called on all stakeholders in South Sudan to help recently released child soldiers to integrate back into their communities and build a future for themselves.

World Vision South Sudan child soldier Victor
2018 World VisionVictor a 15-year-old child soldier in South Sudan

Mr Shearer, who is the head of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said 87 of the children were girls, many who endured sexual abuse.

Undertaken in Yambio (south-western South Sudan), it is the first such release in over a year and marks the first phase of the overall programme which will see more than 700 children return back to their communities.

The 2017 report of the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) indicated that some 19,000 children have been recruited by armed groups in South Sudan since the conflict erupted in 2013.

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An additional 389 children remain in the program, still undergoing rehabilitation.

They will also be provided with three months' worth of food assistance and with vocational training and age-specific education services in schools and accelerated learning centres. "Many joined armed groups because they feel they had no other option", said Mdoe.

A 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital, forcing Machar to flee into exile.

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"They told me to go near the road and if I heard the sound of a auto coming, I went and reported it".

Victor, 15, who was among the children released on Wednesday, told how he was abducted and forced to be an informant for an armed group for more than a year. Then they would come and take the vehicle. The people inside the cars would sometimes escape and run. UNICEF will continue to work with all parties to the conflict, as well as UNMISS, to secure the future release and reintegration of all children associated with armed groups through a meticulous process of negotiation, verification and registration.

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311 child soldiers freed in S