(NEW YORK) -- The United Nations says that 3,000 child soldiers in South Sudan are to be freed thanks to the United Nations Children's Fund.
According to a U.N. statement, the first group of 280 children were released on Tuesday at the village of Gumuruk. Ranging from 11 to 17 years old, the children were recruited by the South Sudan Democratic Army Cobra Faction and have been fighting for up to four years. Many of them have never attended school, the U.N. says.
The U.N. further claims that 12,000 children have been recruited and used as soldiers by armed groups in South Sudan in the last year.
"These children have been forced to do and see things no child should ever experience," UNICEF South Sudan Representative Jonathan Veitch said. "The release of thousands of children requires a massive response to provide the support and protection these children need to begin rebuilding their lives."
The children being released by Cobra Faction will be supported with basic health care, protection, food, water and clothing.
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