South Sudan has seen progress on peace since a February 2020 agreement, but violence continues at the local level in more than 75 percent of the country and it threatens to spiral out of control in several regions.
That’s according to a report released Friday by the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan and presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. It details an increase in armed attacks against civilians and ethnic conflict between allied Dinka and Nuer militias and Murle pastoralist militias, in central and southern Jonglei State and in the Pibor area.
“The scope and scale of violence we are documenting far exceeds the violence between 2013 and 2019,” said Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka. Homes in villages are burned, civilians are forced to flee, many are killed, and women and girls are abducted.
“Women and girls have been targeted by all sides, while abducted boys were forced to fight, and in some instances forcibly assimilated into rival groups with their identities completely erased,” Sooka added. “The mobilization of tens of thousands of fighters armed with sophisticated weapons is well coordinated and highly militarized and certainly not a coincidence.”
The drivers behind the violence include competition for power and land, and access to resources including gold mines.
Commissioner Andrew Clapham said the acts constitute human rights violations and may be crimes under international law, but there is no accountability for the violations. Clapham appealed to the South Sudanese government to quickly establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union that would do so.
“The lack of accountability for historical grievances and the general state of lawlessness are fueling impunity for gross human rights violations in South Sudan,” said Commissioner Barney Afako.
“To achieve healing and ensure sustainable peace, South Sudan desperately needs a concerted nation-building project under a leadership committed to managing ethnic and other diversity. The re-establishment of State and local government authority is a critical first step in this direction.”
Image: UNMISS file