The release of children who have been unlawfully recruited must be sought at all times, without condition. Thousands of children have been separated from state armed forces and non-state armed groups both during on-going conflicts and following cease-fires and peace agreements in recent years, mainly through official disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programs.
However, efforts to release child soldiers and facilitate their recovery and reintegration often fall short of needs. In many situations where children are known to be actively involved in armed conflict there are no formal programs to bring about their release and support their reintegration. Where such programs exist, child soldiers cannot always access them or otherwise receive insufficient assistance for the complex process of reintegration.
Girls, including girl mothers face particular obstacles in obtaining release and accessing appropriate support for their recovery and reintegration. The failure to address the needs of girl soldiers is often linked to broader gender discrimination, which can be reinforced by discrimination in the context of programs for release and reintegration of child soldiers.
Where states do not support the release and reintegration of former child soldiers, other human rights violations may also result. Detention of children who are captured or surrendered during hostilities or are detained for their alleged association with non-state armed groups is widespread. Many of these detentions are unlawful and arbitrary under international law.
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