JUBA, July 24 (Xinhua) -- At least 32 children have been released from armed opposition groups in Leer County of northern Unity state in South Sudan, the UN said on Wednesday.
The UN children fund (UNICEF) said the children all boys aged between 13 and 17 were formally separated from the armed group during a ceremony in Leer, witnessed by parents and community members.
Mohamed Ag Ayoya the UNICEF South Sudan representative said in a statement issued in Juba that some of the children have been used by the armed groups since the conflict flared up in 2016 and have not seen their parents since.
"Using children in armed groups violates almost every child right that exists. These children are deprived of a childhood and have seen things children should never experience. However, it is not too late to give them a future and that future started today," Ayoya said.
He revealed the released children are enrolled in a three-year-long UNICEF supported reintegration program. The children are provided with basic services such as food, water, clothes and hygiene items.
UNICEF said that the children are also provided with formal or vocational education and psycho-social support to learn how to live with their experiences.
It disclosed that a social worker is designated to each child and will follow them throughout the program, providing support.
"Reintegration has no shortcuts. It takes time and comes with a price tag, but we have seen this gives the best results and prevents children from returning to the armed groups later," said Ayoya.
He called on donors to continue supporting the reintegration programs aimed at helping the released children make a better future for themselves
UNICEF has supported the release of 3,143 children from armed forces and armed groups in South Sudan since outbreak of conflict in December 2013. Enditem