- UN Commission on Human Rights in Sudan (from left) Yasmin Sooka, Chair, Andrew Clapham and Barney Afako (2018), by UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan (Twitter Photo)
February 21, 2021 (NEW YORK) – South Sudan is still experiencing extreme levels of violence, a year after the parties formed a Transitional Government of National Unity, the United Nations said.
In a report published Friday, the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said attacks against civilians by armed groups and militias along ethnic lines escalated between February and November last year, and a large number of human rights violations such as murders and displacement of hundreds peoples.
The violence in South Sudan, according to Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka, is at its highest level since the beginning of the war.
“The Commission has documented some of the most brutal attacks carried out over the past seven years, particularly in Central Equatoria, Warrap, Jonglei, and Greater Pibor Administrative Area which have seen an escalation in conflict, resulting in homes being systematically and deliberately torched, civilians are forced to flee, many are killed, and women and girls are abducted, raped, gang-raped, and sexually enslaved, and in some instances are forcibly married,” said Sooka.
She added, “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,”.
For his part, Commissioner Andrew Clapham said that many of the acts being committed, in addition to amounting to human rights violations, may be tantamount to crimes under international law provided in the draft statute of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
The Commission also noted that South Sudan witnessed widespread suppression of the rights to freedom of speech, expression, peaceful assembly, and association since 2011.
Attacks, it further stressed, continue to cause displacement, with more than reportedly 1.4 million people are internally displaced, and 2.2 million have been driven to seek asylum by the conflict.
The Commission called for implementation of the Revitalized Agreement, “in particular with regard to transitional justice mechanisms and the hybrid court for South Sudan.”
It will present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on March 10, 2021.
South Sudan descended into a civil war in mid-December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former deputy Machar of plotting a coup, allegations the latter repeatedly denied.
In September last year, however, the country’s rival factions signed a revitalized peace deal to end the civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.