South Sudan

Machar’s Rebel Group Releases 150 Child Soldiers

The rebel movement of the former South Sudan Vice President, find Dr. Riek Machar together with Cobra Faction has released 145 soldiers to the United Nations Children Fund.

According to the UN agency, the discharge of children which took place at unnamed location within the Greater Pibor Administrative Area early this week, was the largest number freed since 2015 when 1,775 children were released in the same area.

The South Sudan UNICEF’s Representative, Mahimbo Mdoe said in a statement that the estimated 16,000 children still held in combat activities by both government and rebel forces should also be released.

“Our hope is that this week’s release will be followed by many others so that the 16,000 children who are still in armed forces and armed groups will be able to return to their families,” Mdoe said.

The children were according to reports formally disarmed, provided with civilian clothes and medical screenings were carried out to prepare them for the reintegration programme.

UNICEF said over the coming months, the released children will receive counseling and psycho-social support. The first plan is to place them in an interim care center, until their families can be traced.

The UN body also plans to provide the families of the children with three months food assistance, take-home package and livestock supplement household income during the reintegration process.

Mr. Mdoe stressed that children in South Sudan are victims who need support.


“Children in South Sudan need safety, protection and opportunities. Our priority is to get them into school and to provide services to communities so the children are able to see a more promising future.”

UNICEF said it continues to receive reports about the recruitment of children in Unity, Jonglei and other states.

“We urge all parties to abide by international law, to end recruitment and to release children who are currently serving in their ranks.”

An estimated 16,000 children have been recruited by armed forces and armed groups in South Sudan since the onset of fighting that began in December 2013. More than 800 children are estimated to have been recruited since the beginning of 2016.

UNICEF has been working with the Government of South Sudan’s National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission to secure the release and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups and to provide the children with livelihood and education opportunities.

The UN body for children appealed for an additional US$4,000,000 to continue providing the services needed by the children released this week and those expected to be released in the future.

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