The UN’s childrens’ agency UNICEF says more than 650 children have been recently recruited by armed groups in South Sudan.
UNICEF estimates that 16,000 child soilders have been recruited since civil war began in 2013 and is now urging for their unconditional release.
“When you drive across these rural roads you see child soldiers. And all the different groups are recruiting, there is a mobilization going on in some of these remote areas to get people into these armed groups because people feel the violence will escalate and they are taking advantage of that to recruit these very young people, said UNICEF executive director, Justin Forsyth.
Separately, according to an internal UN memo obtained by Associated Press, the government of South Sudan has been recruiting child soilders to prepare for a renewed conflict.
The document indicates that a senior politician appointed by president Salva Kiir led the recruitment of boys in a village by using intimidation with some being as young as 12 years old.
However, military spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang, said youth who join the military are not forced and said he was not aware of the recent recruitment of child soilders.
Civil war in the world’s youngest nation began in December 2013 and tens of thousands have been killed with more than 2 million people being displaced.