By Munira Abdelmenan Awel
ANKARA (AA) – More than 100 child soldiers were released Tuesday by armed groups in South Sudan, according to UNICEF in a statement.
The release of 119 child soldiers rose to 3,100 the number of those freed since the start of the 2013 conflict.
Among them were 48 girls, with the youngest from the group being 10.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore urged all parties in South Sudan to recommit to defend the rights of children and ensure they never become soldiers.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which requires governments to meet the basic needs of children and to help them reach their full potential,” she added.
The release took place in the southwest town of Yambio where the children had been associated with the South Sudan National Liberation Movement, which signed a peace agreement with the government in 2016.
According to the statement, the children were registered and provided a certificate stating they are no longer affiliated with the group and basic necessity packages delivered.
Social workers, health workers and education specialists were on hand to assess their immediate needs.
Each child is provided with three years of reintegration support to assist their return to civilian life and prevent re-recruitment.
For each released child helped, one vulnerable child and a family from the host community are also supported to foster acceptance and promote a more sustainable reintegration.
There are still tens of thousands of children serving in the ranks of armed forces and groups in South Sudan, UNICEF noted.
Since February 2018, more than 1,000 children have been released by various armed groups in the world's youngest nation.