Mass Child Abductions and Violence Mark the Beginning of 2017 in Gambela, Ethiopia


12 March 2017

London, UK – On March 10, a group of armed combatants belonging to the ethnic Murle of South Sudan, crossed the border into the Gambella region in southwestern Ethiopia and carried out a slew of attacks on villages found along the Gilo river. The combatants attacked the village of Ang’ela around 11am GMT, leaving six dead, two wounded, and four children abducted.

The following day, around 12am, the village of Obuwa was bombarded with heavy artillery by the Murle combatants, destroying houses and leaving 12 people dead and 2 wounded. The group abducted 21 children during the course of the attack. Later that day, around 11am the village of Otuyo was attacked, where two more children were abducted.

Earlier this year, from February 3-5, attacks on the villages of Othowol and Pinyudo by Murle combatants, which left 13 dead, 2 wounded, and 20 children abducted, went unreported by national and international press outlets.

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The attacks in February and March were targeted towards the agro-pastoralist Anuak people, who are indigenous to Gambella.

The region of Gambella has played host to 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers from South Sudan since December 2013. Due to the porous border that separates Gambella from South Sudan, Murle combatants and Nuer militias have continued to carry out attacks on Anuak villages and other civilian populations in the region.

In April 2016, the Murle combatants were reported to have killed 208 people and abducted 108 predominantly Nuer women and children in Gambella, prompting the Ethiopian military to cross the border and retrieve some of the children with the permission of the South Sudan government.

The Murle ethnic group is known for cross border cattle raids and stealing children to raise as their own.

For queries and comments, contact:

Nyikaw Ochalla,, +44 (0) 1183272316


Established in 2000, Anywaa Survival Organisation is a non-profit organization that has been promoting human rights and campaigning against land grabs affecting the Indigenous Peoples of the Gambella region in southwestern Ethiopia.

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