UN calls for the release of hundreds of abducted girls in South Sudan

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UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for the release of hundreds of South Sudanese civilians kidnapped by opposition forces.

According to the United Nations, hundreds of girls from the Western Equatoria region were abducted by opposition soldiers in April, when fighting between government troops and rebel forces in the region intensified. A new peace deal has been signed between South Sudan’s warring sides but the UN is calling upon authorities to ensure the girls are returned home.

UN calls for kidnapped girls to be returned

“Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive”, said Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “The SPLA-IO (RM) must immediately release them, first and foremost the children.”

The commissioner’s appeal comes after a report published by the UN, detailing human rights abuses against civilians in Gbudue and Tambura states, both of which are in Western Equatoria region.

It features testimonies from witnesses and victims that describe how women and girls as young as 12 were abducted by opposition forces and lined up for commanders to choose as wives. Those who were not chosen by commanders were left for other fighters and subjected to repeated rape, the report says.

Abducted men and boys were forced to fight in South Sudan’s civil war or work for the opposition. According to UN figures, more than 900 people were abducted in the two states and 24,000 were forced to flee their homes.

Featured image: By Jason Patinkin (VOA) – http://www.voanews.com/a/government-soldiers-leave-juba-before-rebel-leaders-return/3286194.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56846864

 

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.