South Sudan: Fears Ex-Child Soldiers Could Take Own Lives

Khartoum — SOME former child soldiers released from the ranks of government forces and armed groups in South Sudan are contemplating suicide as a result of the trauma emanating from their participation in the civil war.

Non-governmental organisations involved in the demobilisation of the minors and reintegration into their communities said this was the most of the children suffered post-traumatic stress disorder with depression also common.

"We also see many patients with a variety of symptoms, including recurrent flashbacks and intrusive thoughts," said Silvia Marquez, health activity manager at Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) or Doctors Without Borders.

"Some feel that they are back in the middle of the fighting; others experience sudden unexpected thoughts or images as they go about their daily life, generating discomfort. Others have thoughts of suicide and consider harming themselves."

MSF has been working since February 2018 alongside other organisations to support the reintegration of these children into their communities. Over 3 000 children have been demobilised and reintegrated.

Most of the children are now back at school.

"Some have even got married," Marquez enthused.

Marquez said while most former child soldiers had been welcomed back by their families, others faced challenges finding their relatives, who might have been displaced or killed in the conflict.

Government forces and rebel groups are accused of recruiting children since South Sudan's civil war began in 2013.

A majority report having been abducted on their way to school or to work in the fields.

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