How does UNICEF recruit

UNICEF: More child soldiers in South Sudan again

According to the UN, more than 650 boys and girls have been forcibly conscripted into the military by armed groups in South Sudan since the beginning of the year. The current tensions in the crisis state would expose tens of thousands of children to ever greater risk, said the UN children's aid organization UNICEF. The illegal recruitment of child soldiers must finally be stopped. According to the organization, an estimated 16,000 children have been recruited by armed groups and armed forces since the conflict began in late 2013.

A military spokesman said youth who wanted to join the army would not be forced. He had no information about a recent recruitment of minors. Fighters under the age of 18 are considered child soldiers. Recruiting and using girls and boys under the age of 15 in combat operations is a war crime. According to UNICEF, half of the children in South Sudan do not go to school, which is the highest figure in the world.

Successful demobilization

Last year, the aid organization in South Sudan helped organize the release of 1,775 child soldiers. Now it is to be feared that "a further increase in child recruitment is imminent," said UNICEF Deputy Director Justin Forsyth after a visit to South Sudan. "The hope that everyone had for this young country has turned into a nightmare," Forsyth emphasized. The recent fighting between the troops of President Salva Kiir and the soldiers of his adversary Riek Machar has led to new violence, especially against girls and women. At least 300 people were killed. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese fled.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the youngest country in Africa. At the end of 2013, a power dispute between President Kiir and his then Vice-President Machar, a former rebel leader, turned into a civil war. Despite a peace agreement that was signed in August 2015, new fighting broke out between supporters of Kiir and Machar on Independence Day on July 9th. Both sides blame each other for the recent escalation.

Machar abroad

Machar fled the capital Juba with his soldiers in July and, according to information provided, recently left the country. A UN spokesman said in New York that the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Monusco) took over Machar on Wednesday and handed him and his family over to the Congolese authorities on Thursday "on humanitarian grounds" and "with his consent".

A representative of Machar's party SPLM-IO had previously told the AFP news agency that Machar was in Kinshasa and wanted to travel to Ethiopia from there as quickly as possible. Machar had stayed in Ethiopia several times during the civil war.

kle / jj (dpa, epd, afp, rtre, ape)