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Save the Children and partners return 58 abducted children and women from their families

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58 children and women previously abducted from their families during intercommunal violence have been returned to their families, as part of a partnership led by Save the Children with UNMISS and other agencies.

Children and women have been abducted across the country, including Akobo, Walgak, Pierri, Lankien, Pibor and Maiwut. The children range from two to eighteen years old, some being separated from their families for more than five years.

The return and reunification process is the result of a goodwill agreement facilitated by UNMISS with the support of community leaders, the Government of South Sudan, the Peacebuilding Opportunities Fund, as well as other organizations and agencies.

Save the Children and its local partners actively participated in peace conversations, while leading family tracing and the reunification of women and children. The family tracing and reunification process is supported by a grant of over US $ 1.5 million to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ) and Save the Children, through the Reconciliation, Stabilization and Resilience Trust Fund.

Boyoi *, 16, was abducted from Pibor in May 2020 when she was only 15. When her village was attacked by armed youth, her family dispersed in different directions. Boyoi, his mother, sisters and brother were all kidnapped and taken to different places after the attack. From Pibor, Boyoi ended up in Pieri, four days’ walk away. Eventually, Boyoi and his mother were identified among other people abducted in Pieri and kept under the protection of the community aid organization, a partner of Save the Children. Boyoi is now back with his family in his native village.

Boyoi said:

When we were attacked in May 2020, we ran in different directions. My mother, brother and sisters were taken by the attackers in different directions. I did not know that they had also been abducted like me. For me, I was also taken alone by the kidnappers. It was a long journey. It took us four days of walking to reach the city of the kidnappers. I didn’t know where my parents were, including my brother and sisters. One day, I came to the market with the daughter of the man who took me. At the market, I met my mother and decided to follow her where she lives. For me, if the government or the NGOs say they want to take me back to my father, I’m ready to go ”.

Rama Hansraj, Country Director of Save the Children in South Sudan, said:

“Family tracing and reunification is at the heart of what we do at Save the Children. It’s about bringing children back to those who love them, miss them and are best placed to give them the care and security they need to live, grow and survive.

“Children who have been taken from their families during conflict must be protected, treated as victims and supported to recover and reintegrate into their communities. The experience of being associated with an armed force or group can have immediate and lasting impact and consequences for boys and girls. This includes death, sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, physical injury or disability, and the long-term impact of chronic health conditions, including sexually transmitted infections.

“Save the Children is proud to work alongside our partners and UNMISS to accomplish this vital work. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners and governments to rebuild the lives of these families and bring more peace and hope to South Sudan. “.

In South Sudan, Save the Children is the leading family tracing and reunification agency and together with our partners we are truly proud to have been able to reunite around 7,000 children separated from their families as a result of the conflict so far. .

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