Africa

South Sudan government recruited child soldiers, UN says

In this Monday, July 25, 2016 photo, a group of children at the U.N. protection of Civilians site in Juba, South Sudan, play with a makeshift gun. South Sudan's government has recruited child soldiers in the past week to prepare for a renewed conflict, according to an internal United Nations document obtained by The Associated Press. The document says a senior politician appointed by President Salva Kiir led the recruitment of an entire village of boys using intimidation. Some were as young as 12 years old. It was not clear how many children were involved. (AP Photo/Justin Lynch)

In this Monday, July 25, 2016 photo, a group of children at the U.N. protection of Civilians site in Juba, South Sudan, play with a makeshift gun. South Sudan's government has recruited child soldiers in the past week to prepare for a renewed conflict, according to an internal United Nations document obtained by The Associated Press. The document says a senior politician appointed by President Salva Kiir led the recruitment of an entire village of boys using intimidation. Some were as young as 12 years old. It was not clear how many children were involved. (AP Photo/Justin Lynch)  (The Associated Press)

South Sudan's government has recruited child soldiers in the past week to prepare for a renewed conflict, according to an internal United Nations document obtained by The Associated Press.

The document says a senior politician appointed by President Salva Kiir led the recruitment of an entire village of boys using intimidation. Some were as young as 12 years old.

Armed groups in South Sudan often coerce children to join their ranks by threatening to confiscate their family's cattle, a key source of wealth and status.

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang says youth who join the military are not forced.

The U.N. says at least 650 children have joined armed groups in South Sudan this year. Around 16,000 child soldiers have been recruited since civil war began in December 2013.