Rise of child soldiers in S/Sudan

child soldierMARIA MACHARIA  
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – AN estimated 16 000 children, including 650 this year, have been recruited into armed groups since the crisis in South Sudan started 2013.

Rights groups are wary of more children being recruited as the crisis in the country worsens by the day.

Fearful that renewed conflict could put tens of thousands of children at ever greater risk, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called for an immediate end to recruitment and the unconditional release of all children by armed actors.

“The dream we all shared for the children of this young country has become a nightmare,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Justin Forsyth.

The envoy spoke in Nairobi following a trip to Bentiu and Juba in South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

“At this precarious stage in South Sudan’s short history, UNICEF fears that a further spike in child recruitment could be imminent.”

In 2015 UNICEF oversaw the release of 1 775 former child soldiers in one of the largest demobilizations of children ever. Renewed fighting and recruitment in South Sudan risks undermining much of this progress.

Forsyth highlighted increased grave violations in the world’s youngest country, noting that gender-based violence, already pervasive, had greatly intensified during the current crisis.

“Children continue to endure horrific ordeals. Recent reports point to widespread sexual violence against girls and women.”

Forsyth UNICEF noted that unconditional access for all humanitarian interventions in Juba and all other parts of the country is urgently needed so as to provide support, protection, and assistance to children and women across the country.
CAJ News

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