Unicef has recently released a documentation of child soldiers in Sudan which stands at an alarming 6000 children aged between 11 and 16. The United Nations has called for demobilization.
According to estimates from the child protection agency, about 2.3 million children had been affected by the conflict in Darfur since it began almost six years ago. It is believed that nearly 700,000 children have been born and grown up knowing nothing but war.
Under both Sudanese and international laws, it is illegal to have soldiers below the statutory age of 18.
But according to the head of Unicef in the war-torn region of Darfur, Ted Chaiban, although some of the children had been forcibly recruited some of them also signed up voluntarily.
These children he said were either linked to rebel movements, to government-backed militia and or fighting alongside the Sudanese army.
This has prompted the UN to step up efforts to convince armed groups to release the child soldiers.
The first group to sign the agreement will be from the Sudan Liberation Army faction led by Minni Minnawi – one of the few rebel leaders to have signed a peace deal with the government.
Unicef has been negotiating with the other factions and hopes they will follow suit.
According to Mr. Ted Chaiban, ‘Any child that has been in a conflict situation, that has witnessed and, more importantly, participated in violence basically becomes dehumanised… They know something is wrong but they cannot explain what is wrong’
It separates them from their emotions and from their normal growth in a way that is much more severe than an adult going through the same experience.’