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SONS OF GUNS

As civil war ravages South Sudan, tens of thousands of children are being forced to join the fight. Will Washington help?

IT WAS JUST before dark, and Charles was pulling weeds with his father in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria state when roughly a dozen armed rebels appeared, demanding he join their ranks. Charles was terrified. His father tried to intervene, but he was outnumbered. That night, Charles, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, was separated from his father and forced to become a soldier. He was just 13 years old.

It’s been three years since the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war, and the consequences have been devastating. Rebels and government forces have conscripted more than 17,000 children to fight, according to UNICEF, in a conflict between supporters of President Salva Kiir and those of former Vice President Riek Machar. The war has already killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced more than 3 million people. Both sides have been accused of killings and mass rapes, but a recent U.N. report placed most of the blame on the government’s side. The conflict has also been economically disastrous, creating inflation and now famine. In February, the U.N. said some 100,000 people are on the brink of starvation, while another million could be affected. Months earlier, Yasmin Sooka, the U.N.’s chair of the Commission on Human Rights in the country warned that South Sudan was showing “all of the warning signals” of a Rwanda-like genocide.

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About Newsweek International

SPLITTING HEADACHE: IS FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY FIR TO TAKE ON TRUMP Many say FBI Director James Comey torpedoed the presidential aspirations of Hillary Clinton, and he may soon do the same for Donald Trump. As the bureau’s investigation of Russian interference in the election and the possible collusion of Trump’s camp builds toward a confrontation, America needs to know if their top G-man is a righteous warrior or a self-righteous prig.
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