Southern Sudan to Remove Child Soldiers From Army
Army purges kid troops despite looming battle with north
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 30, 2010 10:35 AM CDT
In this file photo of Sunday, Feb.25, 2001, a young Sudan People's Liberation Army child soldier walk with a gun during the demobilization of soldiers at Rumbuk , sourthern Sudan.   (AP Photo/Sayyid Azim)

(Newser) – The government of Southern Sudan will purge child soldiers from the ranks of its former rebel army by year's end, it said today, a policy change that could see thousands of young troops pushed out of the military. The Sudan People's Liberation Army launched a new "Child Protection Department" intended to help the army fulfill an agreement it signed with the United Nations in November. The agreement commits the army to release all children in its ranks by the end of the year and to end the use of child soldiers across Southern Sudan.

The UN Children's Fund estimates that about 900 children serve as soldiers in the south. The southern military did not say how many child soldiers it believes it has, but the chief of staff indicated it was several thousand.