Renewed violence threatens peace and stability in South Sudan – UN experts

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The ongoing hostilities in South Sudan that started in June have resulted in the killing and injury of hundreds of civilians, and the displacement of more than 80,000 others.

The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan noted the development with grave concern as violence and the delayed implementation of the peace agreement severely threaten peace and stability in the region.

Hundreds of women and children have also been abducted, with women and girls as young as 8 years raped and subjected to multiple forms of sexual and gender-based violence, amid the brutality and destruction that has ensued.

The violence has been characterised by intercommunal strife and revenge killings. Many attacks also involve the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and members of armed opposition groups.

Most recently, on August 08, at least 75 people were killed and another 76 were injured following bloody clashes between armed youth from the Dinka Luanyjang community and soldiers based in Warrap State.

Sexual and gender-based violence also continues to be a pervasive characteristic of the on-going attacks in South Sudan, including in the Equatorias. Brutal rapes including gang-rapes have been central to the violations committed by armed forces during cattle raids in Warrap and Lakes States.

“The levels of violence and suffering particularly against women, the elderly and children are deeply disturbing, and demonstrate an utter disregard for human life, making the revitalised peace agreement a mockery,” said Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka.

“Violence perpetrated by self-defence community militias in Warrap, for example, has displaced hundreds of residents, mainly women and children, from border communities. They are starving with no access to food and have been forced to scavenge and eat leaves boiled in muddy rain water for their survival.”

The violence has also led to heightened levels of severe acute malnutrition among infants and children in the affected population.

“This at a time when the vast majority of civilians, particularly the 1.6 million internally displaced persons, continue to remain at risk because of COVID-19, and have limited access to basic services,” Sooka said

“These callous and brutal attacks have the potential to completely unravel the peace agreement,” she added.

The Commission remained concerned that the parties to the conflict in South Sudan continue to disregard the call for an immediate global ceasefire made by the UN Secretary General António Guterres on March 23, 2020. (Source: OHCHR)

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