Southern-based Sudanese rebels have agreed to
demobilize thousands of children who served as combatants in the war against
the Khartoum regime.
The United Nations reported that the Sudanese People's Liberation Army
has been sending children home in the Western Upper Nile region. The SPLA
mobilized thousands of children in the 20-year-old war against the Khartoum
In wake of a year-long ceasefire, the SPLA began what UN sources termed
a "large demobilization of children in the volatile Western Upper Nile
region." The sources said the SPLA plans to demobilize 800 children soldiers
in the area.
Already, a UN statement said, the SPLA ordered 94 children to lay
down their guns, hand in their uniforms and return to their families. The
statement said the SPLA, in a ceremony in the village of Tam, told the
children to attend school in their communities, Middle East Newsline reported.
The UN also reported that 18,000 Sudanese refugees crossed into Chad
from the rebel-held Darfour region. The Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement,
which is not formally connected to the SPLA, has been battling the Khartoum
regime for more than a year for control of the area.
The statement quoted refugees as saying that Sudanese forces attacked 10
villages in the canton of Djerbira on Jan. 16. The refugees said the troops
burned houses and dynamited wells, sparking an exodus by villagers to Chad.
On Saturday, the SLA/M claimed that its forces killed 700 Sudanese
soldiers and downed a military helicopter in a battle in northern and
western Darfour. The rebel group said the battle lasted a week and that
government troops fled to neighboring Chad.
The SLA/M has also agreed to join forces with the Beja Congress. SLA/M
operates in the western part of Darfour while Beja operates in the eastern
sector of the province.