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Khartoum starts to hand over Darfur child soldiers to their families

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October 8, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese government has embarked on actual moves to hand over 21 child soldiers to their families after completing the legal procedures, said children official.

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A member of Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) walks with his rifle at Ashma village 30 km (19 miles) from Nyala, south Darfur, October 6, 2004. (Reuters photo)

Last month, President Omer al-Bashir announced the release of twenty one children allegedly detained during the Gouz Dango battle with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) 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 press conference in Khartoum on Saturday, the chairperson of Sudan’s National Council on Child Welfare (NCCW) Suad Abdel-Aal, said they are working with the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (DDR) to integrate the child soldiers into the society.

She pointed that one of the child soldiers is from South Sudan, adding they would coordinate with Sudan’s Foreign Ministry and the concerned organizations to send him back to his family.

The Sudanese official added that 7 of the child soldiers suffered from tuberculosis, saying one of them had died while the remaining 6 were rescued after the government authorities provided them with medical treatment.

She declined to provide the names of the child soldiers under the pretext that they seek “to maintain their safety and privacy”, saying the process of integrating them into the society would be conducted confidentially.

Abdel-Aal pointed the child soldiers are being hosted in a special house in Khartoum’s neighborhood East Nile, saying the house was rented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

She said the concerned bodies would develop a plan to ensure the safety of these children until they were handed over to their families, saying the DDR would complete the procedures to integrate them into their societies.

The Sudanese official pointed the children have been subjected to the worst kinds of exploitation, saying they were used as human shields in the military operations.

For his part, the Special Prosecutor of Darfur Crimes Al-Fatih Mohamed Tayfor said the name of the child soldiers who died Mustafa Ahmed, pointing he passed away on June 17th.

He stressed the need to impose the rule of law and fight against impunity, saying he received information that many soldiers who were captured by the Sudanese army during the Gouz Dango battle were underage boys.

Tayfor pointed that most of the child soldiers have fallen victims to kidnappings and forced recruitment, saying some of them were seduced to take up arms against the state.

The Sudanese army and its allied militias have has been fighting a number of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in Darfur conflict since 2003, and over 2.5 million were displaced.

(ST)

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