145 child sol­diers in South Su­dan re­leased

About 16,000 chil­dren are still in ‘armed groups’, Unicef says

The Star (Kenya) - - News World -

BBC/ Some 145 child sol­diers fight­ing for two rebel groups in South Su­dan have been re­leased, Unicef has an­nounced.

The chil­dren were re­cruited by the Co­bra Fac­tion and the SPLA In Op­po­si­tion, two armed groups which have been fight­ing the govern­ment.

They were freed in the eastern re­gion of Pi­bor and “dis­armed and pro­vided with civil­ian clothes,” Unicef said in a state­ment.

About 16,000 chil­dren are still in “armed groups”, it says.

Unicef said it was the largest re­lease of child fight­ers since last year but warned that chil­dren were still be­ing re­cruited by var­i­ous armed groups.

Mahimbo Mdoe, Unicef’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in South Su­dan, urged all par­ties to “end the re­cruit­ment and to re­lease chil­dren who are cur­rently serv­ing in their ranks”.

South Su­dan plunged into in­ter­nal strife in De­cem­ber 2013, when Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir ac­cused his ri­val, former Vice-Pres­i­dent Riek Machar, of plot­ting a coup.

The two camps have bro­ken a se­ries of peace deals, the lat­est one in July, meant to re­solve the cri­sis in the coun­try. Hun­dreds of civil­ians have been killed and thou­sands forced from their homes in the lat­est fight­ing.

Former Botswana Pres­i­dent Fes­tus Mo­gae, who chairs a com­mis­sion that mon­i­tors the 2015 peace agree­ment, says the on­go­ing hos­til­ity might trig­ger an “un­con­trolled es­ca­la­tion of vi­o­lence”.

Fight­ing has been re­ported around Yei in the south-east, Leer in the north, and Nasir in the north-east. Due to the de­te­ri­o­rat­ing security sit­u­a­tion, trans­port­ing goods by road is se­verely ham­pered.

/REUTERS

Su­dan Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army forces pa­trol the Lalo camp fol­low­ing heavy fight­ing that killed dozens of peo­ple, close to Malakal, South Su­dan, on Oc­to­ber 16

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