South Sudan hands over 56 abducted children to Ethiopia

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wpid-08-07-2011children-300x200JUBA, May 21 (Xinhua) — The South Sudan government has confirmed handing over 56 out of 108 children who were abducted in last month’s across border raid by the militia to the Ethiopian authorities.
Information, Communication Technology and Postal Service Minister, Michael Makuei said government has stepped up efforts to recover more children who were abducted by the militia on April 15.
“Fifty-six children have so far been handed over to Ethiopian authorities. Efforts are still underway to recover the rest of the children who have not yet been found,” Makuei told Xinhua late on Friday.
Gunmen from South Sudan’s Murle tribe descended on a dozen villages in Ethiopia’s remote Gambella province on April 15, snatching children, shooting adults and carrying off more than 2,000 head of cattle.
The militia massacred 208 villagers and kidnapped 102 children in a cross-border raid. The gunmen reportedly took advantage of the country’s insecurity situation and the porous border with Ethiopia to carry out the heinous crime.
Makuei said South Sudan’s Defence Minister Kuol Manyang and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) General Paul Malong this week visited the Ethiopian border to add more synergies in the recovery of more children so that they can be reunited with their families peacefully.
“The two senior officials’ mission was to intensify search for rescue of the children so that they can be reunited with their families,” Makuei said.
He said efforts to recover the children have been underway as jointly deployed forces continue with search of remaining children at the border.
The Ethiopian official had linked the armed attackers to South Sudan government troops and opposition forces, an allegation disputed by Juba.
In addition, Addis Ababa also issued South Sudan ultimatum of 14 days to recover all the abducted children before sending troops in-search for the children along.
Cross-border raids are not unusual in the Horn of Africa country’s Gambella region, which is situated on the border with South Sudan.
Ethnic communities in both nations have frequently clashed over land, livestock and resources such as grazing rights and water.
The Murle tribe has been accused of stealing cattle as well as children to raise as their own during previous raids. Those targeted in the mid April raid were members of the Nuer ethnic group, who live in both Ethiopia and South Sudan.

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