South Sudan: Rebels to Release Child Soldiers

Khartoum — ARMED rebel groups are anticipated to release some 300 children used as soldiers in the civil war in South Sudan.

The Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR), which is co-chaired by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the highest UN envoy in the country, David Shearer, confirmed the imminent release.

Officials said around 200 children are to be released in the southern Yambio and James Diko towns. Another 100 minors are to be set free in the northern Unity State.

The youngsters are set to be released by the end of July.

The recent freeing of 121 children - 49 girls and 72 boys- associated with the armed groups has raised hopes of more releases.

UNICEF, in collaboration with UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the National Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Commission, successfully secured the children's freedom.

The newly-released children are from the former South Sudan National Liberation Movement and the Udan People's Liberation Army in Opposition, which is aligned to the axed vice president, Riek Machar.

President Salvar Kiir Mayardit sacked him in 2013 for allegedly plotting a coup.

This led to an intense civil war in the world's newest country that gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

It is estimated over 300 000 people have been killed. Over 2 million people are refugees, out of a total population of 12 million.

UNICEF estimates that 9 000 South Sudanese children have been recruited into the government forces and rebel groups.

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