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SPLA-IO accused of forceful recruitment of displaced civilians in Unity State

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) has been accused of forcefully recruiting hundreds of civilians in Bentiu internally displaced people’s camp in Unity State.

Maj. Gen William Manyang Mayak, the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) Division Four commander accused the SPLA-IO officers of harassing civilians on the pretext of searching for deserters.

 “We did not agree to conduct forceful recruitment, and those harassing civilians in Bentiu IDPs camp are SPLA-IO, what is supposed to be carried out is the collection of weapons in the town not forceful recruitment,” said Mayak in an interview with Juba Echo on Monday in Bentiu.

He said some of the victims being held in detention by SPLA-IO are school children and civilians.

Mayak disclosed that six schoolchildren and seven humanitarian national staff working in humanitarian bases are some of the detainees waiting to be released.

 “I am in coordination with those civilians who will be released very soon, as government we did not agree with the action of collecting civilians and placing them in detention facilities, we are only collecting weapons,” said Mayak.

The forceful recruitment of civilians was conducted at 5.50 A.M on Monday by soldiers belonging to SPLA-IO.

2nd Lt Chiluok Wicyuok of the SPLA-IO who was part of the recruitment claimed that they are identifying their soldiers who deserted the barracks.

“We are only identifying our soldiers who deserted the barracks, and those youths who are fond of carrying out criminal activities in Bentiu IDPs camp,” said Wicyuok.

The former rebel movement SPLM/A-IO is among the several parties to the 2018 revitalized peace deal signed to end years of conflict since outbreak in December 2013.

The parties are supposed to canton and train 83,000 forces to take charge of security during the extended transition period that will end in 2025.

So far 52,000 unified forces have been graduated since August 2022.

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