Thousands of child soldiers still trapped after South Sudan war

Thousands of child soldiers dragged into South Sudan’s civil war are unlikely to be freed soon because aid agencies lack the funds to look after them, a U.N. envoy said on Tuesday.

The government signed a peace deal with rebel factions in September to end a civil war that killed at least 50,000 people, but many children who were forced into the conflict are still stuck in military camps in the bush, according to Virginia Gamba, U.N. envoy for children and armed conflict.

Gamba, who has spoken to former child soldiers in the country, said a lack of resources to re-integrate the children meant they remained at extremely high risk of abuse.

Since January, 900 child soldiers have been freed and Gamba expects a further 1,000 releases by the end of the year. But there are many more, she told reporters.

“The first group of released children kept telling me that at least two or three of their friends were still in the bush waiting to be released or waiting to be negotiated and asking me to intervene on their behalf,” she said.

South Sudan has agreed a joint action plan with the United Nations that would allow aid workers to reach deep into the former war zone and verify child numbers in military camps.

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Text : Reuters

Photo: REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu