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South Sudan on the Brink of Child Soldiers Nightmare: UNICEF

  • The UNICEF believes over 16,000 children have been recruited into armed groups since December 2013,

    The UNICEF believes over 16,000 children have been recruited into armed groups since December 2013, | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 August 2016

Fears of a renewed civil war will further increase the child soldier problem, said UNICEF. 

The United Nations' children's agency, UNICEF, said on Friday that it fears that the forced recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan is rising, adding further concerns to a country thatmany believe is on the edge of civil war.

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UNICEF’s deputy executive director Justin Forsyth said that a “further spike in child requirement could be imminent … "The dream we all shared for the children of this young country has become a nightmare."

The group believes that around 16,000 children have been recruited into armed groups since December 2013, with belligerents attacking villages and abducting children – forcing them to fight. Other children often join to avoid being killed and to protect their local communities.

Fighting between rival militias has recently flared up again, as groups loyal to former rebel leader and South Sudan President Salva Kiir clash with supporters of former Vice President Riek Machar and the opposition SPLA-IO party.

It is thought that Machar has recently fled the country as he was in danger and was assisted by the U.N. in his escape, according to the Associated Press.

The capital Juba was hit with violence in July where over 140 rival militias died. Experts fear that the world’s newest nation will fall back into civil war unless both sides look to work on strengthening a peace deal from August of last year.

Following the peace in 2015, UNICEF was able help demobilize and release 1,775 child soldiers – but renewed conflict could lead to a renewed search for child soldiers.

The civil war broke out in 2013 and was fought along ethnic lines after Kiir sacked Machar as his vice president for allegedly plotting against him.

More than one in five of South Sudan's 11 million people has fled their homes as a result of the civil war.

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Earlier in August, the U.S. requested that the U.N. send 4,000 additional troops to the country after a U.N. report revealed that its peacekeepers had contributed to a February massacre of internally displaced persons in the south of the country.

While Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state she took charge of the sending of arms to southern Sudan, violating a law prohibiting military assistance to countries which are known to arm children.

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