South Sudan: Over 650 children recruited into armed groups in 2016

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Gatkuoth, 15-years-old (not his real name), was recently released from an armed group in South Sudan. He was recruited when he was just thirteen. UNICEF estimate that there are still 16,000 children associated with armed groups in the country. Photo: UNICEF/UN028379/Rich

More than 650 children have been recruited into armed groups in South Sudan since the beginning of this year, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday.

Last year, the agency saw the release of more than 1,700 child soldiers in what was one of the largest demobilizations of children ever.

However, renewed conflict could put tens of thousands of children at greater risk.

Jocelyne Sambira has the story.

There are fears that a further spike in child recruitment could be imminent because of the recent violence in South Sudan, according to UNICEF.

 

Children continue to be recruited and used by armed groups and forces despite widespread political commitment to end the practice.

 

Christophe Boulierac is the UNICEF spokesperson.

 

"Since the beginning of this year, more than 650 children have been recruited into armed groups in South Sudan. We are very concerned that renewed violence in Juba and other parts of the country will escalate further recruitment we feel that a further spike in child recruitment could be imminent."

Gender-based violence, already pervasive, has also greatly intensified during the current crisis.

The systematic use of rape, sexual exploitation and abduction as a weapon of war must cease, together with the impunity of all perpetrators, the agency said.

UNICEF is calling for an immediate end to recruitment and the unconditional release of all children by armed actors.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’03″

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