88 Ethiopian Children Abducted By South Sudanese Gunmen Freed

Most of the children who were abducted by South Sudanese gunmen earlier this year have been rescued by the Ethiopian government.

In April, a cross border cattle raid which occurred in the Gambella region saw over 200 people killed with some 136 children abducted.

Few days after the raid it was said that the authorities knew where the abducted children were and that the Ethiopian army was already on its way to South Sudan to rescue the children. An act which was to be more of a negotiation between both parties than the application of force.

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Last month, 19 of the abducted children were allegedly freed. Spokesperson for the Ethiopian government, Mr Getachew Reda had said that negotiations were still ongoing to secure the release of the remaining children.

It would seem the Ethiopian government is keeping to its words because 88 of the abducted children have now been freed.

However, not all the children are in good condition, some of them are suffering from malnutrition. One of them, a baby is said to have been fed cow’s milk instead of breast milk while being held hostage.

The children who were from the Nuer ethnic group in the Gambella region were abducted by Murle tribesmen and fed cow’s milk and blood. Some of them were adopted by Murle families and reportedly given Murle names.

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“The majority of the children are between three and five years old. Many Looked very distraught and dazed,” said Sacha Westerbeek of Unicef Ethiopia. “They have seen people killed in front of their eyes. You can see the fear in the eyes.”

Cattle raids in the Gambella region are not uncommon but the deadly scale at which the April attack occurred caused the Ethiopian government to be perplexed.