To reinforce their ranks, the various armed factions fighting in the civil war that has ripped South Sudan apart since December 2013 have enlisted thousands of children. Depending on their age, boys are sent to fight or serve as porters and bodyguards. Girls are most often "taken as wives" by the commanders and their men, which is a euphemism to describe a captivity marked by repeated rapes and other abuse.
According to the UN, there are still 19,000 children in armed forces in South Sudan, which is probably a conservative estimate. Despite several releases, the recruitment continues.
The use of children under the age of 15 in armed forces is a war crime—to highlight this ongoing issue, Unicef made February 12 the International Day of Child Soldiers. They’re the often invisible victims of conflicts they have no control over.