June 20 2006
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has welcomed the demobilization of 181 children - 174 boys and 7 girls - from the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA).
This release took place on 6 June in Julud in the Nuba Mountains area of Sudan (Southern Kordofan), and the children have been reunited with their families over the past two weeks.
In addition to these 181 children formally released through the Southern Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (SSDDRC), another 30 children went home earlier by themselves prior to the demobilization as they came from nearby locations.
The process of advocating for the release and registering these 211 boys and girls started back in February, explained UNICEF Representative in Sudan, Ted Chaiban. The children range from 10 to 18 years; they all lived and attended school in the military barracks of the SPLA for the past 3 to 5 years.
As he tried to pack his bicycle on the bus, Abubaker who is 15 years old and one of the children released, said, Thanks to UNICEF and all those who made this possible for us. Ill go home and get ready for school before the next academic year.
UNICEF is extremely pleased about this demobilization and thanks the SSDDRC for its collaboration said Chaiban. There are still more boys and girls who are associated with armed groups in Southern Kordofan and other areas of Sudan and we hope they too will return home soon. UNICEF has already registered another 80 in the Kauda area, and these children are ready to be released. We have also been informed of other children in Blue Nile State that will also be reunited with their families.
UN Childrens Fund works with the SSDDRC for the demobilization of children in the SPLA, and Save the Children US, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN Mission to reunite and provide services for reintegration for these children and receiving communities in Southern Kordofan, North Sudan and beyond.