Hundreds of former combatants in Darfur, western Sudan, have been discharged in a process that targets 5,000 members of various fighting groups, the AU–UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said. The discharge took place from 22-24 November, in El Fasher town.
The ex-fighters, including women and the disabled, were disarmed in July 2008. They included fighters from Sudanese Armed Forces, People’s Defence Forces, and the Sudan Liberation Army. They each received US$150 from the Sudanese government.
The militia groups are also believed to have a large number of child soldiers, according to Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Speaking to reporters in Khartoum on 25 November, she said the number of child recruits in armed movements such as Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Janjawid and Chadian armed forces, was said to be significant.
There was also active recruitment in Darfur. However, the signatories to the Darfur peace process, including the Sudan Liberation Army/Free Will, JEM/Peace wing and SLA/Abu Ghasim, had agreed to discuss how to discourage recruitment. "Even within the armed forces of Sudan, there is now a child protection unit, whose purpose is to ensure that children are not recruited," the UN representative added.
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