Home | News    Sunday 29 May 2016

S. Sudan militias frees more Ethiopian children, dozens missing

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 28, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – More Ethiopian children who were abducted by a South Sudanese militia group have been recovered and safely returned to their home.

Ethiopian troops carrying some of the recovered children abducted by Murle armed men, 11 May 2016 (Facebook photo)

The president of Gambela region, Gatluak Tut said seven more children were brought back to the region from where they were kidnapped last month.

The number of children so far freed from South Sudanese abductors has reached 63.

Their release comes after South Sudan’s deputy defense minister in collaboration with regional administrators and clan leaders made negotiations with the Murle tribesmen.

Tut said efforts to bring back all the kidnapped children would further be strengthened.

“The agreement between Ethiopia and the South Sudanese government to collaborate in resolving the problem peacefully will guarantee the return of the children and looted cattle” he added.

Officials say at least 60 more children are still missing and their release according to sources is being difficult as unidentified demands of abductors have not yet met.

It is feared that abductors could trade the children to other communities with the exchange of cattle.

A military official, who preferred anonymity, told Sudan Tribune Saturday that Ethiopian defense forces will “certainly carryout punitive military operations” should abductors refuse to free the remaining children.

Ethiopian forces are already in South Sudan to rescue the children but have not yet carried out military action, giving ongoing negotiations a chance to peacefully settle problems.

Critics accused Ethiopia’s government of doing little to immediately rescue the children.

“How could a border of country which prides it self as a militarily strong could be so porous to an extent that thousands of foreign armed men invade the nation” Biniyam Daniel, a politician based in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.

“Where were the Ethiopian security forces, the Air force while they kidnap them and cross the border on foot? Why haven’t they acted in time?” he added.

Last month, an estimated 2,000 attackers from South Sudan’s Murle tribe armed with machine guns, raided 13 villages in Ethiopia’s western region of Gambela and killed 208 Ethiopian villagers, abducted over 140 children and stole at least over 2,000 cattle.

Gambella region is a shelter for over 280,000 South Sudanese refugees who fled to Ethiopia to escape the conflict that broke out in the young nation in December 2013.