The United Nations children’s agency is reporting armed men abducted at least 89 boys in South Sudan. According to BBC News, the kidnapping took place at a camp in the northern city of Malakal, where thousands of people left displaced by fighting between the rebels and army. According to reports by Unicef, unknown gunmen went from house to house and took boys as young as 13 with them from the village of Wau Shilluk. Both sides in the 14-month civil war in South Sudan have been accused of using children as soldiers by Human Rights Watch last week. The government has denied their allegations. Malakal is currently under government control and has seen fights involving rebel forces and government troops flare up once again and accusing the other of violating multiple peace agreements they’ve created. Unicef has estimated 12,000 children have been recruited for war.
No side has taken claim for the abduction, which took place while the children were taking exams. Unicef’s representative in South Sudan Jonathan Veitch has implored for the children’s release and stated:
The 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 fighting in South Sudan started in 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his ousted Vice President Riek Machar of attempting to sage a coup. Machar denied Kiir’s claims but then went on to have opposition forces led by him fight government troops. Currently, South Sudan is the world’s newest state after it gained independence from Sudan in 2011.