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Release of South Sudan’s child soldiers lauded

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UNICEF says 16000 more victims remain in captivity

 

By Lukmon Akintola

 

An ambassador of the ‘A World At School’ programme, Temidayo Musa, has hailed the recent release of child soldiers in South Sudan as a good development.

Reacting to news on the development, he further urged that the released children should properly integrated into the society in order to prevent future violence.

“The big task ahead is to find a way to discourage the recruitment of child soldiers. Half of South Sudan children do not go to school and this is affecting their childhood development. These children should be provided with civilian clothes, undergo medical screening and take part in a comprehensive reintegration programme which should include the provision of psychological support,” he said.

Temidayo also made it known that the ‘A World At School’ project is advocating for the promotion of child education in the world.

The world’s youngest nation has been experiencing civil unrest since 2013, which has led to displacement of over one million people from their homes and denying children their right to education.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently announced the release of about 145 child soldiers in South Sudan. This came after intense campaign by UNICEF and other institutions against the recruitment of child soldiers by the warring factions in the East African state.

UNICEF noted that these children were freed and disarmed in the eastern region of Pibor. They were also provided with civilian clothes. According to BBC, an eleven years old child soldier, Silva stated that he has been fighting for more than two years. The young boy has been psychologically affected as he has seen many people killed with Ak-47

“I have been fighting for more than two years. I have not seen my mother and father since last summer. I have seen many people killed when I was on missions. I had an AK-47. It was heavy. I was fighting to protect my family and village.” Silva said

He added that “Now I want to go to school and learn. I don’t want to fight anymore, I was scared.”

UNICEF said that over 16,000 child soldiers are still believed to be armed. The UN agency therefore, called for the release of these children, insisting that they are supposed to be in class and not engaged in carrying guns.

The South Sudan crisis, which has dragged on for years, recently took a turn for the worse when fresh hostilities broke out between the camps of President Salva kiir and his estranged Deputy, Riek Machar.

The latter has since gone on exile.

 

UN Secretary General, Ban ki Moon

 

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