UNISFA saves two children from possible human trafficking in Abyei

Two children hawking goods in Aniet market | Credit Achai Biong Arop | AIRS 2020

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei – UNISFA, Sunday  removed two children from the hands of suspected child traffickers and returned them to their families in Amiet, Abyei Administrative Area.

Sources say the boys aged 10 and 11 were found on a tricycle being taken by men said to be from Misseriya.

“They were returned to Amiet. UNISFA found them heading to Noong and asked the Arab “where are you taking these children? And they responded that the children want to work with us. They asked them, “do Southerners know? They said, “we took them from Amiet.” UNISFA returned them to Amiet. Kelek Kon Lual, the advisor on security in Abyei Administrative Area explained in an interview with Abyei FM on Tuesday.

According to the official, the men claimed that they were taking the boys in good faith to work for them. But, some locals consider their action as child trafficking.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as  the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.

Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world. The traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims, UN Office on Drugs and Crime says. 

The UN report titled “Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2020” noted that  Children living in extremely poor households are especially vulnerable.

In the oil-rich region of Abyei, many families live in poverty and are relying on relief handouts. This situation has forced many young people, some of them as young as 10 years to work in the market for survival.  They have taken up some jobs such as transporting commodities using wheelbarrows, cleaning at the restaurants and fetching water among others. 

Kon cautioned parents against letting their children work in the markets, indicating that it exposes them to the risk of being exploited.

“To people who have children, they are not supposed to let their young children, especially the children who do not know what they are going to do to go. Like 10-year-old child or 11 years. Even if they have 15 years, they are still young. You are letting this child to go but do you know what he is going to do?” he warned.

Mr. Kon appreciated United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei for recovering the children, saying, “this is something good.”
Kidnapping is common in the disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan.

Earlier last year, armed militiamen said to be from Misseriya abducted 17 children in separate attacks on Mabok and Kolom villages, but only 6 of them were returned. Community Protection Committee (CPC) puts the number of abductees in Abyei between 2012 and 2021 at 28.