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NEW YORK (February 23, 2015) – UNICEF condemns in the strongest terms the abduction of scores of boys, some as young 13, by an armed group near Malakal in the north of South Sudan. 

A UNICEF education team reported that 89 children were abducted while doing their exams. The actual number could be much higher.

The incident occurred in the community of Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State where thousands of people have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict.

According to witnesses, armed soldiers surrounded the community and searched house by house. Boys older than 12 years of age were taken away by force.

UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, Jonathan Veitch, urged the group to immediately release the children.

“The recruitment and use of children by armed forces destroys families and communities. Children are exposed to incomprehensible levels of violence, they lose their families and their chance to go to school.”

UNICEF reminds all parties involved in the conflict that the recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups is a grave violation of international law.

About UNICEF

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

For more information, contact:

Marci Greenberg, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.922.2464, mgreenberg@unicefusa.org