JUBA, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's warring parties continue to recruit and use child soldiers despite agreeing to end the practice, a body tasked with monitoring a recently signed peace deal said Wednesday.
Augostino Njoroge, interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), told a stakeholder meeting in Juba that ceasefire monitors have gathered evidence of non- compliance on the recruitment of child soldiers by warring parties.
"CTSAMVM has reported that the overall security trend is one of the improvements with parties demonstrating an effort to comply with the terms of the peace agreement," Njoroge said, citing a report by the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM).
"However, it is concerning that CTSAMVM reports evidence of non-compliance in the recruitment of child soldiers," he added.
Under the new peace agreement signed in September, South Sudan's warring parties agreed to free children in their ranks and cease recruitment and use of child soldiers.
But according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the use of child soldiers in South Sudan continued unabated as more than 19,000 children are estimated to be in the ranks of armed groups.
Virginia Gamba, UN special representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said in September that at least 1,200 children were recruited by armed groups in South Sudan last year.
South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.
The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally. The new power sharing deal is aimed at ending five years of brutal conflict in the world's youngest nation.
Njoroge said though violence has reduced across South Sudan after the signing of the agreement, sporadic fighting and access denial to peace monitors and humanitarian agencies continue to threaten implementation of the deal.
He called on the warring factions to comply with the pact and make 2019 a year of peace in South Sudan.