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Sudan People's Liberation Army soldiers wear bright blue UNICEF backpacks originally intended for children as they walk along a road in Mathiang near Bor on Friday.

Photographs of the misappropriated supplies surfaced at an awkward time for the United Nations, which issued an urgent appeal for $1.27 billion in aid for South Sudan on Tuesday.

"We are of course extremely concerned to see this flagrant abuse of UNICEF education materials by combatants," UNICEF's spokeswoman Sarah Crowe told Agence France-Presse.