A file photo taken on Feb. 10, 2015 shows young boys, child soldiers, preparing to lay down their arms at a ceremony of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in Pibor overseen by UNICEF and partners. AFP PHOTO / CHARLES LOMODONG
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Forced to fight from the age of 10 with Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front, Sawaneh recounted his experiences to a Paris conference that focused on the estimated 246 million children living in conflict zones worldwide.Some 17,000 child soldiers have been recruited since 2013 in South Sudan and roughly 1,500 in Yemen since 2015, according to data published this week by UNICEF, the U.N. Children's Fund.In Nigeria and neighboring states, the Boko Haram Islamist group recruited an estimated 2,000 child fighters last year alone.In the meantime, former child fighters are fostered, but Sawaneh said his hopes of finding a loving environment were soon crushed.Following the conference in Paris, Tunisia, Kazakhstan and Myanmar joined 105 other countries who have already signed up to principles and guidelines drawn up in 2007 on child fighters and their social reintegration.
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