UNICEF believe that 89 school children abducted by South Sudan militia

February 21, 2015 6:24 pm

An unidentified armed group has abducted at least 89
boys, some as young as 13, from their homes in the north of the country,
said Saturday.
“Eighty-nine children were abducted …,” a statement said, adding that “the actual number could be much higher.”
The children’s agency said the mass abduction happened at the start of the week in the town of Wau Shilluk.

Displaced people bathe and wash clothes in a stream inside a United
Nations compound which has become home to thousands of people displaced
by the recent fighting, in Juba, South Sudan. (File Photo: AP)

Witnesses
said that unidentified armed soldiers surrounded the community and went
house-to-house taking away by force any boys thought to be over 12
years old.
“The recruitment and use of children by armed forces
destroys families and communities,” said Jonathan Veitch, the head of
UNICEF in South Sudan.
“Children are exposed to incomprehensible levels of violence, they lose their families and their chance to go to school.”
UNICEF estimates there are at least 12,000 children used by both sides in South Sudan’s ongoing civil war.
Recruitment
of children has increased since fighting began in December 2013 when
President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of planning
a coup.
War continues despite numerous ceasefire deals and with peace talks underway in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Earlier
this month advocacy group Human Rights Watch accused both rebel and
government forces of “actively recruiting” child soldiers despite
national laws prohibiting it and repeated promises to stop the practice.
Information
minister Michael Makuei dismissed the report, saying the government did
not use children in combat as there were plenty of men able to fight.
It
was not clear which armed group was responsible for this week’s mass
abduction in Wau Shilluk, a riverside town in government-held territory
within Upper Nile state.
It has grown dramatically with the
arrival of tens of thousands of people forced from their homes during
14-months of war, many fleeing from the nearby city of Malakal, where
fighting has been particularly fierce.
The area is under the
control of government-aligned warlord Johnson Olony, who HRW accused of
recruiting children in its February report.

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