89 children abducted by South Sudan militia

Around 12,000 children are used by both sides in South Sudan’s ongoing civil war

Juba: An unidentified South Sudan armed group has abducted at least 89 boys, some as young as 13, from their homes the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said on Saturday.

Children soldiers
Children soldiers sit with their rifles at a ceremony of the child soldiers disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in Pibor, South Sudan, overseen by UNICEF and partners on February 10. pic/AFP

“Eighty-nine children were abducted… the actual number could be much higher,” the statement said.

The UN children’s agency said the mass abduction happened at the start of the week in the town of Wau Shilluk.

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.

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 Addis Ababa.

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