An outbreak of intercommunal violence in South Sudan that has reportedly left hundreds dead was condemned by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet who calls for those responsible to be brought swiftly to justice.
She also stressed that the victims and their families have access to justice, truth and reparations.
“The reports from Jonglei State are appalling, indicating that scores of civilians have been killed in attacks across 28 villages between May 16 and 17, with many more injured and thousands displaced,” said Bachelet.
Bachelet said the “This recurring pattern of violence, which continues to claim lives in South Sudan, has to stop,” as she urge the government to ensure measures are in place to investigate this violence and to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted.
While politically motivated fighting in South Sudan has declined, this year has seen an increase in intercommunal violence.
During the first quarter of 2020, it was the main source of violence affecting civilians, resulting in 658 people killed, 452 injured, 592 abducted and 65 subjected to sexual violence.
In recent months, Jonglei State and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) which have suffered years of food insecurity and were severely hit by flooding in 2019, have been several outbreaks of violence.
A series of attacks from mid-February to early March has left 220 civilians dead and at least 266 women and children were abducted. Most of these victims have not been released from captivity.
The nature of the intercommunal conflicts, long driven by tensions over access to natural resources, particularly water and grazing land for cattle, has been evolving in recent years, taking on an increasingly militarized character with military-style tactics and military-grade weapons.
“As I have indicated previously, for the peace in South Sudan to be durable, the State authorities must act to end these cycles of retaliatory violence, including by holding those responsible to account and promoting peace-building between individual communities,” Bachelet said. (OHCHR)