September 7, 2016 (BENTIU) - Civilians fleeing from southern Unity state have accused South Sudanese officials of allegedly recruiting young boys as they head to the United Nations camp in Bentiu.
- Children in South Sudan. (Photo UNMISS/Ilya Medvedev)
Residents interviewed by Sudan Tribune claim most of the young boys recruited were below 18 and detained by the South Sudanese army.
A resident, only identified as Isaac, said he was among those detained after being blocked from a UN camp north of Guit county.
He, however, said many of his friends were still under detention by the army around Guit county and other parts of Rubkotna county.
“It was at night we decided to risk our lives and escape from the hand of the SPLA. We were about five of us and at midnight we broke up the Tukul [hut] and walked the whole night and arrived safely in the morning at the UN camp,” narrated Isaac.
The army, he said, allowed women who came with them from Leer to cross into Bentiu and seek shelter, while the boys were detained.
A woman from Mayom county, who preferred anonymity, confirmed there was mass recruitment by government forces ongoing in the state.
She told Sudan Tribune she saw some boys being picked out of a car, but they never returned to join the group of civilians fleeing towards Bentiu.
“Well what is going on cannot be described as we see small boys recruited into the army and these boys are very young and couldn’t hold guns on their shoulders,” she said.
Recent hostilities between government forces and the armed opposition allied to South Sudan former’s first vice president Riek Machar have displaced thousands of people south of Unity state.