South Sudan’s former child soldiers struggle to move on

YAMBIO, South Sudan (AP) — An estimated 19,000 child soldiers are in South Sudan, one of the highest rates in the world, according to the United Nations. As the country emerges from civil war, some worry the fighting could re-ignite if former child soldiers aren’t properly reintegrated into society.

The Associated Press has followed several child soldiers among more than 100 released in February. Many are haunted by their pasts. One says whenever he thinks of the fighting “I feel like stopping and picking something up and hitting my friends.”

The U.N. children’s agency has facilitated the release of more than 3,200 child soldiers from government and opposition forces.

Yet even after a peace deal was signed a year ago, the U.N. says the rate of forced child soldier recruitment by both sides is increasing.

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