Abducted South Sudan children going "from classroom to front line"

2 Mar 2015

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A UNICEF worker stands in front of a group of children undergoing release from the SSDA Cobra Faction armed group, in Pibor, Jonglei State on 10 February 2015. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

Hundreds of children in South Sudan are feared by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to be going from classrooms to the front line.
UNICEF says scores of children seized by armed men from a village in the north of the country two weeks ago remain forcibly recruited as child soldiers, despite intensive efforts to locate and free them.
Africa’s newest nation has been rocked by instability since last December following an internal power struggle that has escalated into a civil war.
Cathrine Hasselberg reports.
UNICEF says it is confident that based on information provided to them, the armed group which took the children was a Shilluk Militia.
The group is under the control of Johnson Oloni, a general who once fought against the government but joined the national army in 2013.
Stéphane Dujarric is the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General.
“UNICEF and UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism partners have tried to piece together what happened during and after the raid and to discover the location of the children. A formal Monitoring Report of a grave violation of child rights is being prepared. One of the challenges hampering evidence gathering has been a heavy militia presence remaining in Wau Shilluk, thus making it impossible to receive first-hand information.”
From reports received so far, UNICEF says it is becoming clear the children are not together in a single group.
Some of the children, it added, may have been allowed back into their village to eat with their parents but were then taken away again at night.
UNICEF is appealing to Johnson Oloni to let all the children go immediately.
Cathrine Hasselberg, United Nations.
Duration: 1’06″