Feb 21, 2015 (Nyamilepedia)—Groups of, at least, 89 schoolboys forcibly recruited by an armed group in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State have been missing from their homes for nearly a week, according to the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Child welfare agency UNICEF today condemned the forced recruitment in a press release, without specifically stating the date on which the boys were abducted.
In response to follow-up questions, UNICEF Communications Officer John Budd told Nyamilepedia on phone today that the abductions took place on “February 15 and into February 16.”
“The armed group was there in the community for Sunday and part of Monday,” he said, referring to the group that recruited the boys. “Six teachers have also been taken,” he added.
The UNICEF official also clarified that the abduction happened not literally while the boys were doing their exams but rather while they were “preparing” for the examination.
Although the UN agency has not identified by names the armed group responsible for the abductions, it reported that the recruitment took place in Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State. This area is claimed by the government as one of its areas of control and is defended by government-allied Shilluk militia commanded by Gen. Johnson Olony.
The UN agency based its announcement at least in part on information gathered by a UNICEF education team.
Asked whether UNICEF was unsure from its fieldwork about the armed group that had carried out the abduction, Budd briefly responded that “We have no verifiable evidence.”
Several clashes have taken place during the last week in areas near the location where the boys were abducted. Both Wau Shilluk, Kaka and Haluf where clashes took place are within Shilluk Kingdom on the Nile’s west bank.
Over the last week, SPLM-IO faction troops have struck south from Manyo County toward Fashoda County, but are not reported to have reached as far south as Wau Shilluk.
South Sudan’s defense minister told Radio Tamazujm, one of the online Radios that covers news about Sudan and South Sudan, this week that the SPLM-IO faction attacks were repulsed.
This entails that the children were recruited near the front line areas while clashes were taking place.
For more information please contact:
John Budd, Communication Officer,
UNICEF South Sudan;