November 3, 2016 (JUBA) -At least 290 civilians have been forcefully recruited by government forces in a four days exercise carried out in South Sudan’s Mayom county multiple sources and eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune in series of interviews.
- South Sudan government soldiers in the town of Koch, Unity state, South Sudan, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. (Photo AP/Jason Patinkin)
Those who carried out the recruitment reportedly targetted the youth.
Peter Magai, one of the new recruits said he was forcefully taken from his home in Mankien on Wednesday and ended up in a cargo plane to Juba for training.
He claimed the armed oppositoon members who have joined President Salva Kiir’s camp ochestrated the recruitments in the oil-rich region.
"It was on Wednesday morning when uniformed soldiers came and rounded us in Mankien in our rooms and ordered us to immediately closedown shops,” said Magai.
Another youth, only identified as Simon, said he was recruited while teaching children in class and taken to Mayom county headquarters.
Currently, there are hundreds of new recruits at Buluk waiting to be transferred to Rajaf training centre, located in the suburbs located south of the heart of the capital.
Majority of the recruits are believed to be under aged children from Unity state’s Mayom, Rubkotna, Guit, Koch, Leer and Mayiandit counties.
Weigoah Ruop, a formerly chairman of Mayom universities and colleges, condemned the recruitment of child soldiers, and accused the government of using a wrongful approach.
“I strongly condemn in the strongest term possible the continued recruitments of civilians especially in Mayom county by the government. It is sad to see that children are taken to be used in the conflict for individual gain,” he said.
Unconfirmed reports say South Sudan’s First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai personally engineered the forcefully recruitment of the youth from Unity state.
Gai’s alleged involvement could not be independently verified by Sudan Tribune.