The abducted four-year-old son of a UN migration agency worker who was killed in South Sudan in October has been released and reunited with his father during an emotional reunion in the capital Juba on Friday.
“We are very grateful that the boy is safe and relieved that this ordeal that has been ongoing for almost ten weeks is finally over”, said the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) South Sudan Chief of Mission, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.
The boy was taken when fighting broke out on 27 October between armed groups in Isebi - close to the volatile border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo - that took the life of the child’s mother along with a male IOM volunteer colleague caught in the gunfire exchange. A third female IOM volunteer who disappeared along with the child, died later of her injuries, IOM learned.
“The boy has been reunited with his father and our primary focus now is to ensure that they both receive counselling”, Mr. Chauzy said.
IOM thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross for the invaluable support and pivotal role it played in facilitating the safe return of the child.
A UN agency is providing counselling services to the boy, whose name is being kept confidential, and his father.
The child’s mother was working at the IOM Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Point of Entry screening site in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria region.
At the time, IOM humanitarians were working in Ebola screening points in border areas between South Sudan, Uganda and the DRC, tracking the spread of the deadly disease.
“While we celebrate the safe return of the little boy, our hearts are heavy because we have learned that our volunteer who was taken at the same time has passed away,” said the IOM Chief, Jean-Philippe Chauzy.
Following the incident in October, IOM temporarily suspended Ebola screening at five points of entry sites, namely Isebi, Bazi, Kirikwa, Lasu and Okaba.
While operations in Bazi and Okaba were restored on 18 November, ongoing insecurity in the region where numerous armed groups operate, has kept the other three closed.