UNICEF condemns abduction of children in South Sudan

UNICEF condemns abduction of children in South Sudan

[JURIST] UNICEF [official website] on Saturday condemned [press release] the abduction of young boys by an armed group in South Sudan. A UNICEF team found that 89 children were abducted by armed soldiers in an Upper Nile State community. According to witnesses, boys over the age of 12 were taken by force. UNICEF urged the immediate release of the children. UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch, stated: “[t]he recruitment and use of children by armed forces destroys families and communities. Children are exposed to incomprehensible levels of violence, they lose their families and their chance to go to school.”

The use of child soldiers has been a problem in the ongoing conflict in South Sudan. The South Sudanese Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted since December 2013 when President Salva Kirr accused his ex-vice-president, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow him. Earlier this month Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported [JURIST report] that both parties in the conflict are recruiting children, with close to 600 child soldiers being used since the beginning of the conflict. Earlier in February the UN reported [JURIST report] continued rights violations just when the groups were on the brink of signing a peace deal. In January the UN reported attacks [JURIST report] on civilians based on ethnicity and political beliefs in Sudan that amounted to several war crimes. In August in a briefing before the UN Security Council, Assistant Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet [UN News Centre report] discussed the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, describing it as a “man-made crisis” [JURIST report], putting South Sudan on the “brink of a humanitarian catastrophe and a protracted internal conflict.”