Suspected South Sudan rebels have reportedly kidnapped over 500 school children in Amadi state.
Amadi State is one of the 28 states of South Sudan.
It is located in the Equatoria region and it borders Maridi to the west, Yei River to the south, Jubek to the southeast, Terekeka to the east, Eastern Lakes to the northeast, and Western Lakes to the northwest.
The National Courier quotes the Minister of Information in Amadi State, John Henry, who said more than 500 primary school children between ages of 13 and 16 years were kidnapped by what he said were “rebels”.
He said that the school children (year 6 to year 8) were taken by armed men suspected to be Riek Machar forces last week when they attacked Kediba, capital of Mundri East County.
He said that, “according to the report from the community leaders and parents, the children both boys and girls abducted by the rebels are more than five hundred who were taken to the bush and their whereabouts is not known”.
A security analyst who spoke to the National Courier said this was a worrying development and compared it to Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] tactics of kidnapping children to bolster its ranks.
United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) announced on Wednesday that Yau Yau’s Cobra and Riek’s IO affiliates in Pibor have released a total of 145 child soldiers.
UNICEF said it was the largest number of child-soldiers freed since 2015. Last year, at least one thousand child soldiers were released in then Pibor Administrative Area.
Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan hopes many others will be set free.
About 16 thousand children enlisted in armed forces are expected to be released, UNICEF said.
Mdoe said all the freed children will receive counselling and psychosocial support in coming months.