World Bulletin / News Desk
At least 4,563 children have been reunited with their families in South Sudan, some of them after years of separation, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) has said.
The agency said the figure only included children who have been identified and registered and the real numbers "are evidently higher".
"Since 2013, we have reunified 4,563 children with their families," UNICEF spokesman Timothy Irwin revealed to Anadolu Agency in an interview in Juba on Tuesday.
“9,046 cases of children also remain active and open requiring ongoing interim care and family tracing services," Irwin said.
An estimated 900,000 children have been displaced by the ongoing war in South Sudan, with 14,628 identified as separated and missing from their families since December 2013, putting them at risk of abuse, he added.
In nearly three years of conflict in South Sudan, nearly 1,200 children have been killed as a direct result of combat, according to UNICEF. In addition, more than 16,000 children have been recruited as soldiers since war between the government and rebel groups broke out in December 2013.
In 2016, UNICEF oversaw the release of 1,775 former child soldiers.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into crisis in December 2013 as troops loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with defectors led by his former deputy Riek Machar.
The conflict soon evolved into a full-blown war in which allegiances have mostly followed ethnic lines. It has left thousands of South Sudanese dead and compelled around 2.4 million people to flee.