Over 200 child soldiers were released on Thursday by armed groups in South Sudan, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday.
In Pibor, South Sudan, a ceremony celebrated the release of 210 children, who were provided with civilian clothing.
The ceremony on Thursday marks the third such event in South Sudan. The formal disarmament of the children will raise the number of released children from armed groups to 806 since the beginning of 2018.
Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s representative in South Sudan said: “Every time a child is released and able to return to their family, it’s a source of great hope -- hope for their future and for the future of the country.”
Three of the children released are girls. Additional releases are expected in the coming months to elevate the number of freed children to more than 1,000.
“We also hope there will be many more of these events until there are no longer any children in the ranks of armed groups," Mdoe added.
The children and their families will be provided with three months worth of food assistance and will be given vocational training aimed at enabling them to increase household income and food security.
Previous ceremonies of child releases were held in February and April in the town of Yambio in the southern part of the young nation.
There are still around 19,000 children serving in the ranks of armed forces and groups in South Sudan, UNICEF noted.
UNICEF urged all parties to the conflict to end the recruitment of children into armed groups and to release all children in their ranks.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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