A baby boy reunited with his mother
PIBOR, SOUTH SUDAN - Seven-month-old baby boy reunited with mother after release by abductors
Nyandit* shed tears of joy, when she reunited with her seven month old baby boy. Nyandit is a victim of recent inter-communal violence in Pibor, after she was abducted and suffered injuries due to abuse resulting from beating and separated from her baby by the perpetrators.
In early January, the Greater Pibor Administrative Authority and Jonglei Administration coordinated with the armed youth groups involved in the conflict to release abducted women and children, as well as mobilize the urgent return of the women and children to Pibor safely.
Nyandit was abducted by armed groups when her community was attacked on Christmas eve, 2022 and was abducted along with hundreds of other women and children. Nyandit escaped from the abductors, but she could not free her baby who was in the hands of the abductors.
My little baby was captured and taken by the abductors and stayed with them until the Government was able to negotiate for the recovery and release of the abductees from the youth.
In the weeks following the attack and abductions, some abducted children and women were released. So far, 100 women and children have been released, but many more remain missing. Officials from the Greater Pibor Administrative Area and the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare shared the message of the recovered children and women with the affected communities after they were transported back to Pibor. Nyandit suspected that her child would be among those released.
She set off on foot to Pibor from Gumuruk, a journey she did without food or water.
I was struggling to stay mentally stable with all the depression, bad thoughts, and dreams impacting me.
Upon arriving in Pibor she was directed to the compound where abductees were hosted and supported by UNICEF partners and the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare.
At the compound, she found UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare’s partners – Grass Roots Empowerment and Development Organization (GREDO) and Save the Children, and were providing shelter, individual and group psychosocial support and trauma counselling, and initiating family tracing processes by directing relatives and caregivers arriving to the Interim Care Center (ICC) to identify loved ones.
Nydandit was linked with social workers from GREDO. She was referred to the only seven-month-old baby at the ICC.
Nyandit cried upon seeing her baby. She immediately moved into the ICC to care for her baby while the administrative formalities of reunification took place.
“There were men, women, and children - I can still remember - who were abducted from their houses and taken away by the abductors, raped, women were re-abducted, some of them probably killed and children separated from their families, and nobody knows what happened to these girls and boys,” she said.
“I still can't believe how some people can see this happening and can keep quiet. Nobody raises their voice against this. You have women in your own family…why don’t you speak up? Why didn't those men stop doing this sort of thing?”
Nyandit is now home and continuing to receive health care and case services for herself and her baby as they heal.
The abduction of women and children has severe consequences on the physical and psychological well-being of children, their families, and communities, with long-term consequences.
UNICEF condemns the recent abductions of women and children, rape, sexual violence, physical beatings, and gross deprivations inflicted upon women and children.
There is no justification not in any culture and not in any law, for such violence. Past atrocities are no excuse.
UNICEF commends child protection partners and social workers, acting in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare, to ensure rapid family tracing and reunification processes are initiated for the affected families. This is the first step in what will be a long journey of reintegration and healing.
UNICEF is committed to strengthening responses to child protection violations through effective case management, family reunification, psychosocial support and trauma response programmes.