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South Sudan Child Soldiers

• Although exact figures are hard to determine because of insecurity, UNICEF estimates that 9,000 children in South Sudan have been recruited into armed forces and groups by both sides in the conflict.

• These estimates are based on observations of children with armed groups, of children wearing military uniforms and carrying weapons, and of children undergoing military training.

• Under both international and South Sudanese national law, the forcible or voluntary recruitment of persons under the age of 18, whether as a member of a regular army or of an informal militia, is prohibited.

• In South Sudan, as in other conflict-affected countries, the United Nations monitors and reports on six grave violations against children, including child recruitment. As part of this monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM), we gather information on armed forces and groups that recruit and use children, not just as combatants, but also in support functions that put their lives in danger.

• UNICEF’s work with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) over the years led to a reduction in its use of children in South Sudan’s Government military. This progress, however, is being reversed as a result of the current conflict. UNICEF continues to advocate with the SPLA on releasing children and calls on opposition forces and groups to do likewise.




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