UN lauds first ever rescue of abducted children in southern Sudan
“We call upon the relevant authorities to ensure that all children still in captivity be released as soon as possible, and that the practice of child abduction is brought to a stop wherever they may be in southern Sudan,” said Lise Grande, the UN Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.
The 28 children – aged between 2 and 14 years – were released on 22 October, following a new initiative by the Commissioner of Pibor county, who has vowed to stamp out the scourge of child abduction in Jonglei state.
In May, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that thousands of children are estimated to have been displaced from their homes since the start of 2009 due to attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Central and Western Equatoria, while repeated clashes between tribal groups in Jonglei, Lakes and Warrap states were believed to have resulted in the death and abduction of children.
More than 140 children had been reportedly abducted in Pibor county, while children were feared to be among the 450 people believed killed in Pibor and the 170 people killed in Akobo county.
The group just released, which includes nine Ethiopians from the Gambella region and eight Southern Sudanese from Eastern and Central Equatoria states, is being accommodated temporarily at a centre in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, according to a statement issued by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS).
Ms. Grande voiced her hope that those currently in Juba will be reunited with their families as soon as possible, and that other abducted children will also be freed at the earliest.
UNICEF has been working on child registration to facilitate the tracing of families and reunification, as well as follow-up monitoring.