South Sudan is home to more than 19,000 child soldiers, one of the largest rates in the entire world. While the country is slowly emerging from a five-year civil war that has left hundreds of thousands of people dead or displaced, there is still concern over the possibility that former child soldiers could return to their war-centered lives.
Many children who were formerly soldiers admitted that even though the horrors of war were traumatizing, they still found comfort and stability in the military. The army offered them bedding and clothes, as well as a sense of belonging. These children now find themselves adrift with virtually nothing while the U.N. attempts to integrate them back into civilian society. Many worry that this long process could cause children to return to the military, and the fact that the rate of forced child soldier recruitments has increased in the past year only solidifies these concerns.
According to the National Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission, the South Sudan government is not investing in child soldier integration, leaving many pessimistic about the future. With the upcoming unification of governments in November, there is hope that the peace deal will motivate the leaders to support to the cause.