August 8, 2014 (JUBA) – An African Union child advocacy group said on Friday that 490 children, including babies, have been killed in South Sudan’s Jonglei state capital since the fighting began, while 900 others were abducted.
- Children play inside a camp for internally displaced persons from the Nuer ethnic group inside the UNMISS compound in Bor, the capital of South Sudan’sJonglei state, on 27 February 2014 (Photo: AFP/Jim Lopez)
Advocacy Mission of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) said the impact of the nearly eight-month conflict on children is “greater than the entire 21-year period” of the north-south-north civil war.
“Moreover, the situation is deteriorating as I speak,” said Julia Sloth-Nielsen, the ACERWC expert after a week-long visit to South Sudan.
Julia, who visited Bor on Wednesday, said “numerous reports of children, even babies, being wantonly killed.”
“One report estimates that 490 killed children were identified in many graves in and around Bor. It is not that these deaths are accidental or unfortunate by-products. We are reliably informed that children are being targeted, deliberately,” Julia told reporters in the South Sudan capital, Juba.
At least twelve children were killed on April 12 when the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Bor was attacked by armed group, the child expert said.
At least 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan since the fighting broke out in December, according to UN reports, with at least 1.4 million reportedly displaced from their homes and humanitarian agencies warned of famine facing 4 million others have not been able to farm at the onset of rain season this year.
Julia said apart from killing of children, there is “monitored recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospital, and denial of humanitarian access including access to health.”
“Recent reports include girls in military uniform, reflecting the rapidly changing dynamic of the conflict on the protection of children,” she said.
“The extent of which this war is being waged directly upon the children of South Sudan is apparent from violent abduction of children and the confirmed incidents of rape for both girls and boys,” added the expert.
More than 900 children have been abducted since December ACARWC said, while urging the country’s two warring parties to end the conflict.
Children comprise 60% of South Sudan’s 11 million people according to UN figures. At least 50,000 children could die due to malnutrition and lack of immunization against child killer diseases.