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South Sudan still using child soldiers, says UN envoy

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June 27, 2014 (BOR) – South Sudan is among world nations still using children among its armed forces, Leila Zesrrougui, the United Nations special representative to the secretary-general for children and armed conflict said.

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A South Sudanese army (SPLA) soldier holds his rifle near an oil field in Unity state on 22 April 2012 (AP)

While Addressing reporters in Bor, the Jonglei state capital on Friday, Zesrrougui, however, said the government pledged to release all children from its army (SPLA).

"These are my words to everyone: we are children, we are not soldiers, we belong to schools, we don’t belong to battle field, and we don’t belong to an army”, said the UN envoy, who globally campaigned for the release of children from the armed forces.

She said children should be completely demobilised and permanently settled in schools as efforts to achieve peace in the country continue.

"We need to build peace and address the root causes of the crisis, and more importantly to a hold those who committed crimes accountable", said Zesrrougui.

"I launched campaign in March 2014, to end this recruitment, South Sudan signed the action plan with the United Nations to release all the children and to return them to the community and to stop the recruitment", she added.

A special envoy for the United Nations, Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on Tuesday described as unacceptable reports that about 9,000 child soldiers were recently recruited and used in South Sudan’s ongoing conflict.

“We cannot accept the use of child soldiers,” said Forest Whitaker.

“Children are essential to building a peaceful future, but they cannot do so if they are subject to the physical and psychological abuse of being used in conflict", he added.

The Jonglei governor, John Kong Nyoun, while meeting the UN special envoy, pledged commitment to restore confidence among communities in the aftermath of the rebellion, wrongly perceive as a tribal warfare.

Meanwhile, South Sudan government and its army formally renewed on Tuesday commitment to the action plan signed in 2012 with the UN to end the recruitment and use of children in government armed forces and other grave violations against children.

(ST)

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