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Abducted child escapes, arrives Bor on peace conference day

Jonglei Governor Philip Aguer addresses local leaders in presence of Boma state, Baba Medan, UNMISS official in a meeting held in Gumuruk town, on Tuesday 30, Aug 2016 (ST Photo)

August 31, 2016 (JUBA) – As authorities of Jonglei and Boma states converged for a one-day peace conference to discuss children abduction and cattle raiding between Bor and Murle ethnic groups, a boy abducted from his parents three weeks ago has returned.

Mabior Achiek Wal Ngong was abducted by suspected Murle tribesmen on 4 August. He escaped three weeks later and arrived to his village of Makol-Cuei on 30 August, 2016, the same day authorities of Jonglei and Boma states were meeting in Pibor to brainstorm on how to stamp out insecurity between the communities.

“Mabior escaped from the hands of those criminals in the areas of Pibor and walked for five days till he reached Makol-cuei village [on Tuesday 30 August],” said Jok Mayom, a relative to the 13 years old boy.

Bor county authorities have confirmed Mabior’s arrival to Makol-cuei, a village some 20km north of Bor town, the capital of Jonglei state. Child abduction is common in Jonglei which has now been divided into Boma, Western Bieh, Eastern Bieh and Jonglei states. Bor Dinka community blames Murle tribe for allegedly stealing their children which the later denies.

Writing on his social media page, Jok said one boy abducted alongside Mabior is still missing. He said Mabior escaped after 22 days in captivity and spent five days in the wilderness before arriving safely.

“The young boy is now admitted at Bor Hospital taking medication to restore his good health,” he said.

The two boys were abducted on 4 August from a nearby fishing river and taken to Kum, a village west of Pibor town, the headquarters of Boma state. Photos of emaciated Mabior are trending on social media in South Sudan where users are expressing sympathy and outcry for failure to end the child abduction.

“It’s a shame to abduct a child from the parents. Murle community elders, leaders and learned youths should advise their youths to stop this bad act,” one user, Peter Magai, wrote on Facebook account.

Describing Mabior as a “brave boy” for defying his abductors and fled to his parents, commentators demanded peaceful end to the hostilities between Bor and Murle communities for peaceful coexistence.

Bor county commissioner, Isaac Mamer Ruuk, on Tuesday revealed that the one-day peace meeting in Pibor, attended by Jonglei state governor, Philip Aguer Panyang, and his Boma counterpart, Baba Maden Konyi, has agreed to reunite abducted children with their parents. He said nine children returned from Pibor have been reunited with their parents in Bor.

“One child has been identified in Bor and he is a Murle, he will be returned to Boma state,” said Ruuk, admitting that criminals from Bor have recently also decided to steal children from Murle tribe. He said a second phase of the peace conference will be held in Bor in September.

“On September 15 [2016], another meeting will be held in Bor and authorities from Boma state will attend,” he said, adding that the Murle child in Bor will be handed over during that meeting.

The Tuesday meeting in Pibor also agreed to the deployment of 1,000 strong police to patrol and escort traders between the two communities. Ruuk said the police will be contributed by Jonglei and Boma states equally.

“This joint police will be ready by next week,” he assured.

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is helping to transport the officials between Boma and Jonglei states.

(ST)