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DDR to demobilize child soldiers in cantonment sites

Author: Charles Wote | Published: Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Newly released child soldiers wait in a line for their registration during the release ceremony in Yambio, South Sudan. PHOTO: Stefanie Glinski/AFP/Getty Images

The National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission says it will ensure persons below the age of 18 years are not included in the unified armed forces in South Sudan.

The parties to the peace agreement are currently conducting security sector reforms which including cantonment, training and deployment of a unified army within the next six months.

According to the DDR, a verification exercise to demobilized child soldiers will be conducted across the country.

UNICEF says there are about 19,000 children associated with the armed groups in South Sudan.

File: A young soldier reaches for a lighter for his cigarette at the Sudan People’s Liberation Army headquarters in Bentiu, South Sudan.   PHOTO: Pete Muller/AP

Between 2014 and 2018, about 4,000 children were released and reunited with their families mainly in Gbudue, Boma and Unity states.

Oluku Andrew, DDR National Coordinator said they will visit all military bases and cantonment sites within the next six months.

“So the plan is to go and sensitize the forces across South Sudan and then verify if children are within their ranks before the unification of the forces,” he said.

Earlier this month, a team comprised of DDR, SSPDF, UNMISS and UNICEF traveled to Greater Unity states to sensitize the soldiers, and verify the number of children associated with armed groups in the area.

The DDR Commission is a government institution mandated to demobilization and reintegration ex-combatants in the country.

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