Hundreds of children feared snatched in South Sudan

2015-03-01 20:20
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Nairobi - Unicef, the UN children's agency, said on Sunday it feared that hundreds of boys were kidnapped last month in the northeast of South Sudan, raising suspicions that the abductors were from a pro-government militia.

Unicef estimated last week that 89 boys, some as young as 13, were abducted by an armed group in Wau Shilluk, a riverside town in government-held territory within oil-rich Upper Nile state.

"The organisation now believes the number of children may be in the hundreds," Unicef said in a statement.

It added that the suspected kidnappers were from a "militia... aligned with the government's SPLA forces."

Civil war

Witnesses to the mass abduction on 15 and 16 February said that unidentified armed soldiers had surrounded the community and went house to house taking away by force any boys thought to be over the age of 12.

"The recruitment and use of children by armed forces destroys families and communities," Jonathan Veitch, the head of Unicef in South Sudan, said when the kidnappings were first reported.

Unicef estimates there are at least 12 000 children used by both sides in South Sudan's ongoing civil war.

South Sudan plunged into violence in December 2013 when fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels led by his rival, former vice president Riek Machar.

Each side has accused the other of forcibly recruiting child soldiers.

Militia chief

The president's spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny had strongly condemned last month's kidnappings, saying: "The government of South Sudan will not tolerate the use of our children for violence."

"This is the equivalent to the Boko Haram of South Sudan," he said, referring to the Islamist extremist group behind an insurgency in northern Nigeria that has abducted boys and girls.

But after two weeks of inquiries, Unicef said it believed that government-aligned militia chief Johnson Olony, who controls the area and has been accused in the past by Human Rights Watch of using child soldiers, was responsible for the kidnappings.

Read more on:    unicef  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.