World Bulletin/News Desk
An agreement has been reached to demobilize more than 2,000 child soldiers from the former rebel South Sudan Democratic Movement/Cobra faction (SSDM/Cobra faction) of David Yau Yau.
"More than 2,000 children are going to be released by the cobra faction," Ettie Higgins, UNICEF's deputy country representative, told The Anadolu Agency on Friday.
"There will be a need for psychosocial support for them. They need vocational training and they need to be reintegrated into community life," she said.
The agreement to discharge the child soldiers was reached at a Friday meeting in Juba between representatives of UNICEF; South Sudan's disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) commission; the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA); and leaders of the former rebel outfit.
The demobilization process, which is expected to end in February, is aimed at reintegrating former child soldiers into their respective communities.
"We are very encouraged by the DDR commission to give children a second chance; these children require intensive support," Higgins said.
"We must help these children and their families to deal with their past," she said. "The UN stands ready to support this process and see to it that these children are accepted by their communities."
In May, the SSDM/Cobra faction signed a peace agreement with the Juba government, according to which a federal area was established in the Pibor area of Jonglei State for Yau Yau's Murle ethnic group.
In return, Yau Yau pledged to lay down his arms and end his four-year-old rebellion.
During the rebellion, Yau Yau's group had been notorious for recruiting children for its fight against government forces.
"If there is conflict, children get involved. Once peace is reached, the first thing to do is release children from the [military] forces," deputy DDR commission chairman Majur Mayor Machar told AA.
"So we have to demobilize these children," he said. "The parade [the number of children] is big. They talk about over 2,000 children, but it will be quite [a lot] more than that."
Machar said the demobilization process would likely take time.
"It may take some time because reintegrating children into the community isn't easy," he said.
"They need support, they need counseling and the community needs sensitization to support these children, so it will take us some time," he added.
Gen. Khalid Brutus, director of the SSDM/Cobra faction's demobilization committee, for his part, hailed the agreement.
"What we want to do [demobilizing child soldiers] is one of the steps we reached with the SPLA in the agreement in Addis Ababa," Brutus told AA.
"I was a delegate [at the Addis Ababa talks] who led the process; I know what we're undertaking," he said. "We need to work together so we can succeed."
Last Mod: 05 Aralık 2014, 16:57