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US Envoy: End Human Trafficking in South Sudan

U.S. ambassador to South Sudan Michael J. Adler on Friday called on the South Sudanese authorities to hold individuals responsible for abductions and other forms of human rights violations.

The administration of U.S. President Job Biden is speaking out on abductions as part of Washington’s campaign to raise awareness about human trafficking, Adler said in a statement.

“In South Sudan, we are gravely concerned about reports of women and children being abducted, including within the context of sub-national violence,” Adler said.

The top U.S. diplomat in South Sudan says human traffickers often take advantage of instability caused by conflict to exploit others.

The U.N. children's agency says women and children were recently abducted during intercommunal fighting in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, condemning the kidnappings, rape and sexual violence taking place there.

Adler says Washington is concerned over reports of the recruitment of children who serve in the various armed groups in South Sudan.

"We renew our call for South Sudan’s leaders to act with urgency to end sub-national violence and to hold accountable those responsible for abductions and for all other forms of human rights violations, including child soldier recruitment," he said.

The U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, Siobhan Mullally, visited South Sudan last month and said urgent action is needed to prevent human trafficking and protect women and children.

South Sudan hosts a high number of refugees and migrant workers, including at least 340,000 refugees who have escaped conflict from neighboring Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

South Sudan's government spokesperson and Minister of Information Michael Makuei was not immediately available for comment on Adler's remarks.

The South Sudan government has said in the past it is working on deploying forces to contain the sub-national violence across some parts of the country.