The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet has appealed to the South Sudan rebel movement under Dr. Riek Machar to release nearly 1,000 civilians allegedly abducted from the Western Equatoria region.
According to the UN, in April 2018 before the peace agreement signed in August, Sudan People’s Liberation Army- in Opposition (SPLA-IO) forcefully took 900 people including children and women.
“Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive”, said Michelle. “The SPLA-IO (RM) must immediately release them, first and foremost the children.”
The appeal follows the publication of a UN report into grave rights abuses against villagers in South Sudan’s Gbudue and Tambura states, both of which are in Western Equatoria region.
The report enumerates testimonies from victims and witnesses that indicate how women and girls as young as 12 were abducted by opposition forces and paraded for commanders to choose as “wives”.
Some 900 people were reportedly abducted in total and 24,000 forced to flee their homes.
The girls not picked by the commanders were allegedly left for other fighters who horribly subjected them to repeated rape, while abducted young men and boys were forced to fight, or work as porters.
The SPLA-IO attacked 28 villages and a refugee camp, according to the report, which was compiled jointly by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS.
The SPLA-IO Publicist, Mabior Garang is yet to reply to our email asking for comments on the UN report.