South Sudan: New Country Torn By Old Conflicts


"They kill our wives, our children, and they've taken our cows," he said, with determination and conviction, the voices around him escalating, of the retaliation attacks initiated by the Murle people early last week that killed over 100 of the Lou Nuer.

He says he and the other fighters will return to the villages once they've recovered, and continue to attack and abduct more children in retaliation.

Child Abduction on the Rise

The fight begins over cattle, but the byproduct of these raids has always been murder and child abduction.

UNICEF says child abductions have been on the rise for the past two years in Jonglei state, one of South Sudan's most remote tribal regions.

In the past, abductions were few. "Five children, two children, three children," said Fatuma Ibrahim, Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF. She says it's likely hundreds of children have been abducted in these most recent raids.

Ibrahim has been at the forefront of registering and recovering the missing children for UNICEF in South Sudan. So far, they have recovered 117 unaccompanied children in Jonglei, but they know the number will rise. She is also concerned with how violent these attacks and abductions have become.

New weaponry and military style raids in the area have increased the number of children abducted during these cattle raids.

"Before, even the abduction process itself was not violent," she said. "Now, what brings a lot of protection concerns is the violence that is associated with the process.... They are using guns," she said.

In late December, the Lou Nuer attacked Kakayo's village. Local officials and members of the Murle say that 3,000 were killed, but the UN says the number is more likely in the hundreds.

Just weeks later, fighters from the Murle tribe launched attacks on the Lou Nuer in different towns, killing over a hundred people. This is why the fighters whom ABC News spoke with in the hospital in Juba want to retaliate.

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