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Sudan releases 21 child soldiers from Darfur

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September 22, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has released twenty one children allegedly detained after a battle with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) two years ago, announced a statement issued by UN officials in Khartoum.

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Undated picture extended to Sudan Tribune on 28 April 2015 by the Justice and Equality Movement showing their fighters during a training exercise

On 7 September in a speech at the celebration marking the completion of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in North Darfur capital, El-Fashe, President Omer announced the release of the children saying they had been seized during the Gouz Dango battle in April 2014.

However the rebel group denied that these children were part of its fighters reiterating its commitment to international conventions banning the use of child soldiers.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan Marta Ruedas, Head of UNAMID Martin Uhomoibhi and UNICEF Representative in Sudan welcomed the move and vowed to work with the Sudanese government to enhance the protection of children in the armed conflict affected areas in Sudan.

“It is with great joy that we receive the announcement of the release of these children. This action is a clear result of the Government’s determination towards the protection of children who are affected by conflict in the country”, said Ruedas.

“I welcome the release of these children as a significant gesture and once again appeal to all the parties associated with armed conflict to stop the recruitment of child soldiers,” said the head of Darfur hybrid peacekeeping operation (UNAMID) Martin Uhomoibhi.

The statement said children who have been released on Tuesday will be housed in a government transit centre where they will receive psychosocial and other support and pointed that the UN would work with the government to achieve their successful reintegration into their families and communities.

“Their reunification with their families and their reintegration into society will be a major milestone in the realization and preservation of children’s rights and childhood”, said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Sudan Country Representative.

President al-Bashir said the released child soldiers would be handed over to the Ministry of Social Welfare.

(ST)

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