UN demobilizes first batch of child soldiers in Darfur

27 July 2009

Thirty-six child soldiers who once served with an armed rebel movement in Sudan’s Darfur region have been voluntarily demobilized and given assistance so they can return to school and their communities, the United Nations reported today.

The joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) has provided logistical support to the Darfur Child Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which are spearheading the demobilization initiative.

By the end of the week another 17 child soldiers are expected to be released and demobilized and help with reintegration into their communities. As many as 2,000 children have been identified as eventually participating.

The programme is taking place in Tora, a village located about 60 kilometres from El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

The first batch of 36 – who served with the Freewill faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), often to defend their villages – received backpacks containing school and educational supplies, as well as sports equipment, as part of their reintegration packages.

The Sudanese Government has also set up a three-year special education programme to help with reintegration.

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