Two hundred and eighty former child soldiers begin reintegrating and learning various vocations
May 8 , 2015 Some time, not too long ago we brought you the news of the freeing of 280 children who were captured by rebels of the Cobra Faction militia and then forced into becoming child fighters in South Sudan. More good news as the children are adjusting to family and reintegrating with society. They are also learning skills that will improve their lives.
According to the United Nations, about thirteen thousand children, some as young as nine years old, are associated with armed forces and groups throughout South Sudan. Some of the child soldiers have been fighting for up to four years and many have never attended school.
The demobilization is taking effect after an agreement was made by David Yau Yau – current county commissioner and former leader of the Cobra faction.
The special reintegration program started in January this year. It involves counseling and also teaches skills with various educational, leisure and social activities.
Patrick Peter, a former child soldier said
“I am very happy to be released from the militia. If they can have a sponsor for the school everything will be fine,”
Ellen Margrethe Løj, the UN Special Representative for South Sudan, was recently in Pibor, in the eastern region of the country to meet some of the children. She called for the release of those being held by militia groups in the region.
“We continue to have focus on ensuring that these children are given the opportunity to get a better future for themselves and the Greater Pibor area can be a model for the whole of South Sudan that Children do not belong with guns in their hands,”
Shaun Collins, a UNICEF child protection specialist said
“By the end of this process we will have worked with up between two and three thousand children being released from armed groups. They are still identifying children in some areas so the figures are not complete and of the 1,300 released so far the vast majority of those have returned home to their families and a significant number of them have started to attend school although there were challenges in resources in education in greater Tibor but things are progressing now and the challenge is for us to sustain it,”