ATIOL ELMLIK Atiol ELmlik

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South Sudan: Child Soldiers, Shortage...
Wau Shilluk
By Atiol ELmlik
07 Jul 2014

ARCHIVE FOOTAGE AND INTERVIEWS FROM JULY 2014

The South Sudanese government released a statement on March 12, 2015 saying that the 89 children said by UNICEF to have been abducted in Wau Shilluk were to be released. Reports say that the children were undergoing military training by the loyalist militia of Johnson Oloni to quell attacks by Nuer separatists. Human Rights Watch also released a statement saying the children as young as 13 years-old were being trained both by loyalist and anti-government SPLA forces in Malakal, the contested capital of Upper Nile State.

This footage was filmed in Wau Shilluk in July 2014 with the permission of Johnson Oloni, after residents of Malakal fled to Wau Shilluk, the center of the ancient Shilluk Kingdom, amid brutal fighting between pro- and anti-government forces. Oloni's milita is seen parading through the village after delivering arms and aid from local businessmen to locals and displaced people, among them children brandishing weapons. Children chase the militia's boats as they arrive, and gather round the militiamen chanting, "we have a strong force! Thank you for bringing weapons! We will fight them and destroy them!"

Since the time of filming, the population of Wau Shilluk has swelled drastically with the influx of IDPs from the Malakal area. However, even early on locals testify to the hardship they face amid shortages. They say the government hasn't been able to pay their salaries in months due to the conflict. They expressed despair amid an unresolved security situation that only seems to have worsened as continues, and as more and more children are dragged into the fight.