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News Peace Process South Sudan

NGOs say that the recent violence in the country is the worst since 2013 civil war

Feb 23, 2021(Nyamilepedia) — Fresh violence involving thousands of fighters have sprouted in more than three quarters of South Sudan. 

UN Human Rights Chief in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka (File photo)
UN Human Rights Chief in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka (File photo)

“We have documented the new levels of militia violence engulfing more than three-quarters of the country at a localized level in which children carry weapons and women are traded as spoils of war like chattels,” said Yasmin Sooka, the chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights in South Sudan.

The investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Council described the mindless bloodshed and butchering of civilians among other atrocities as “the worst recorded since the country’s civil war in December 2013.” According to Ms. Sooka, the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement in 2019 saw a reduction in hostilities at the national level but also a massive escalation of violence locally.

Notably, the Commission in its latest report pointed out the existence of “waves of attacks and reprisals” that have left scores of South Sudanese men, women and children dead, maimed and destitute in Jonglei state as well as in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

“According to Ms. Sooka, the militia are often mobilized along ethnic lines with accusing fingers pointing at the state and opposition forces as the culprits responsible for arming them. 

Ms. Sooka while addressing the issue pointed out the clashes between the Dinka and Nuer militia as well as the Murle pastoralist militia in central and southern Jonglei State and Greater Pibor Administrative Area as examples of the ethnic mobilized clashes. “Civilians describe combatants using new weapons which they have never seen before,” said the commission’s chair.

Giving an account of a witness, Ms. Sooka described gathering information that, in Pibor guns that were a reserve of the NSS were easily available going for as low as 25000 South Sudanese shillings. She went ahead to voice her concern taking note that “up to 50000 were involved in one attack in Padoi in Jonglei State and at least 15000 fighters in an attack against Likuangole village.”

Further describing the graphic attacks, she outlined that homes were “Systematically and deliberately torched, murders and forced displacements have been perpetrated, women and girls sexually enslaved and in some instances forcibly married off to their captors. Abducted boys have been forced to fight and in some instances, forcibly assimilated into rival armed groups.” 

Andrew Clapman, a member of the South Sudan Human Rights Commission threw weight to the worrying trends the Chair of the commission had outlined saying that the restrictions and self-censorship among journalists and pressure groups were worrying. “The level of State suppression and inability of civil society or journalists to operate is now completely different,” he said. “There is sort of levels of fear and the state suppression and the fact that you can be picked up, tortured and killed is rather different.”  

The report by the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan is yet to be tabled before the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 10th March.

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