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21 January 2010 - Southern Sudan Officials Achieve Release of Abducted Family

Pibor County, Southern Sudan – The recent release of a 35-year-old mother and her five children who were abducted last March by warring tribesmen demonstrates the success that can be achieved when governments, tribal elders, and humanitarian agencies work together.

The mother and her children were abducted from a Murle village in early 2009 by raiders from rival Nuer tribes. She and her children spent almost a year in captivity before being freed as a result of negotiations led by the Commissioner of Pibor County, the Governor of Jonglei State, and state officials.

“This success illustrates how much can be achieved when state governments and community leaders, supported by UN agencies and NGOs, focus attention on the issue of child abductions and take determined action,” said Peter Crowley, Director of UNICEF’s Southern Sudan Area Programme.

“UNICEF will continue to work with GoSS, state authorities, and community leaders to find positive and constructive solutions to the practice of child abduction, including by better understanding its root causes, and ensure that abducted children are reunited safely with their families,” said Mr. Crowley.

The family’s release follows the release in November 2009 of 28 children abducted children, whose reunification was also facilitated by local and state officials. Through their direct intervention community and government leaders have demonstrated the impact that the state and individuals can have in finding peaceful resolutions to conflict and upholding fundamental human rights.

In 2009, hundreds of children were abducted during conflicts with rival pastoral tribes. Raids by warring tribes have surpassed simple revenge attacks on cattle herders and villages. With increasing frequency, these raids have become aggressively violent demonstrations of force in which women and children along with men are maimed and often killed.

Following the release of the mother and her children and three other abducted children, a special flight was arranged by UNMIS to take the group back to the Emergency Care Centre in Bor. In support of the Ministry of Social Development of Jonglei State, UNICEF, UNMIS Child Protection, and Save the Children staff brought the mother and her children back to their village of Lukuangele in Pibor County where they were met with much enthusiasm by relatives, the village chief, and payam authorities.

The three children were later returned to their families by authorities in Pibor. UNICEF is working with the county and state officials to confirm all of the children are safely reunited.

Although these abductees were returned to their communities, a number of other children are reportedly missing since the 2009 attack. UNICEF and its partners will continue to engage tribal and community leaders to find and safely return these abducted children.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
Amber Henshaw, Chief, Media & External Relations UNICEF Sudan,
Mobile: +249 (0)912 177 291, Email:

Douglas Armour, Communications Manager UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme, Juba, Mobile: + (256) (0) 477 256 717, + (249) (0) 913 143 481, Email:

Bismarck Swangin, Communication officer UNICEF Southern Sudan Area programme, Juba
Mobile: +249(0) 919 261 580, +256(0) 477 103 390: Email:



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