05/20/2015 05:54 pm ET | Updated May 22, 2015

Over 350 Child Soldiers In Central African Republic Released From Captors

PACOME PABANDJI via Getty Images

Peace talks between governing bodies, aid organizations and armed groups in Central African Republic have led to a historic number of children being freed from captors.

Last Thursday, 357 child soldiers were released from the ex-Seleka armed group and anti-Balaka militias -- the single largest release of children in the country by such groups since 2012 -- according to UNICEF.

“After two years of heavy fighting, the release of children by these groups -- on the same day -- is a real step towards peace,” UNICEF representative Mohamed Malick said in a statement. "Violence and suffering can now give way to a brighter future for children.”

The liberations followed a consensus earlier this month between CAR’s armed groups that called for all children in their ranks to be released. The agreement came from cooperation between the armed groups, UNICEF, MINUSCA and the government of CAR.

The children received medical screenings and psychosocial support upon their release. UNICEF is working now to reunite them with family members.

Children associated with the anti-Balaka militia take part in a release ceremony in in Bambari in the Central African...

Children associated with the anti-Balaka militia participate in a a release ceremony in in Bambari in the Central...

Although the news marks a positive step in protecting CAR's children, the country remains in a dire state of need. Violence in CAR beginning in 2012 has been dubbed the "worst crisis you've never heard of" by UNICEF.

Conflict has displaced more than 625,000 people, and at least 6,000 children have been recruited into armed groups. And while malnutrition among kids has increased significantly, there's just one pediatric hospital in the entire nation.

The latest peace agreements, however, will hopefully be just the start to thousands more children finding freedom once again, Fall said.

“Each [one of the children] will require extensive support and protection so that they can rebuild their lives and resume their childhood," he explained.

To support UNICEF's efforts in Central African Republic, click here.

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  • Central African Republic
    In this photo, taken on 27 March 2013, young soldiers from the Seleka rebel alliance pose for a photo as they stand amidst their fellow soldiers at the Ledger Plaza Bangui hotel, in Bangui, Central African Republic. The United Nations children's agency warns that it has 'clear evidence of the continuing recruitment and use of children by armed groups' in Central African Republic. An Associated Press reporter saw dozens of youths among the ranks of the Seleka fighters in the capital, more than three weeks after the insurgents caused the president to flee the country. Child soldiers were even used in some of the heaviest fighting in the battle for Bangui. (AP Photo)
  • Myanmar
    In this photo, taken on 3 November 2013, Min Thu, 17, a run-away boy soldier of Myanmar army, points at a tree that he used to spend days hiding in a nearby swamp fearing arrest following running away from the army in Chaung Tha, Irawaddy, Myanmar. As Myanmar shifts away from decades of military rule, emerging as a quasi-democracy where generals still wield immense political power, the government craves international respectability. Political prisoners have been freed, censorship has been abolished and, the government promises, the days of child soldiers are over. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
  • Mali
    In this photo, taken on 27 September 2012, young fighters, including 13-year-old Abdullahi, right, and 14-year-old Hamadi, second right, display their Quranic studies notes for a journalist as their Islamist commanders look on, in Douentza, Mali. Islamists in northern Mali have recruited and paid for as many as 1,000 children from rural towns and villages devastated by poverty and hunger. The Associated Press spoke with four children and conducted several dozen interviews with residents and human rights officials. The interviews provide evidence that a new generation in what was long a moderate and stable Muslim nation is becoming radicalised, as the Islamists gather forces to fight a potential military intervention backed by the United Nations. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)
  • Mali
    In this photo, taken on 27 September 2012, 13-year-old fighter Abdullahi, right, holds an AK-47 as his Islamist commanders look on, in Douentza, Mali. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)
  • Mali
    In this photo, taken on 27 September 2012, two young fighters read out Quranic verses for a journalist, at the request of their Islamist commanders, in Douentza, Mali. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed)