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In South Sudan Armed groups release 145 child soldiers

UNICEF said the release was secured in collaboration with government disarmament commission, the largest since 2015.

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L), 65, is reported to have fled the country for medical treatment in Uganda play

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L), 65, is reported to have fled the country for medical treatment in Uganda

(AFP/File)

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The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday said more than 145 child soldiers were released by armed groups in South Sudan.

It said in a statement in Juba that the release was secured in collaboration with government disarmament commission, the largest since 2015, when 1,775 children were freed.

UNICEF said that the child soldiers were released by rebels supporting former vice president Riek Machar and another armed group known as the Cobra Faction.

The children were due to be placed in a care centre while their families were being traced.

UNICEF said that an estimated 16,000 children were recruited by the army, the rebels and allied militias since a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and Machar escalated into military conflict in December 2013.

More than 800 of the children were recruited this year, the Fund stated.

Responding, Sam David from the Cobra Faction, a militia comprising mainly members of the Murle ethnic group, said it had released child soldiers without receiving financial compensation for it.

Army Spokesman Lul-Ruai Koang also said the Cobra Faction was in the process of being integrated into the South Sudanese army, which no longer recruits children.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that South Sudan’s civil conflict has killed tens of thousands and displaced about 2.5 million people.

The formation of unity government in April was expected to bring peace, but fighting erupted again in July, sending Machar into exile.

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