Addis Ababa — SIX months after their kidnapping, hopes are diminishing more than 60 children armed militias abducted from Ethiopia will be rescued. They are believed to have been forcibly moved across the border to South Sudan after their abduction from the Gambella region west of Ethiopia.
It is feared the 68 children, all aged below 13, are at risk of being sold and exploited by their captors. Some 26 children from the Anywa ethnic minority abducted in previous raids earlier are also still unaccounted for.
“The abduction and ensuing sale and exploitation of children are abhorrent violations of the rights of the child,” said the United Nations special rapporteur on the sale of children, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.
Worryingly, there is a growing pattern of armed groups targeting civilians, and in particular children, with a complete disregard for international humanitarian law and in complete impunity.
In Gambella, the militants kidnapped 159 children in an attack that left 208 people dead, 80 wounded and some 2 000 cattle stolen.
However, 91 children were rescued through the concerted efforts of Ethiopian and South Sudanese authorities. However, since then, rescue operations have reportedly stopped.
UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, urged both countries to address ethnic violence and prevent the recurrence of such attacks.
The UN experts urged the international community to assist both governments in search of the kidnapped children and necessary support to victims.
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