More than 700 civilians in South Sudan were sexually abused in the first quarter of this year, with the country seeing a surge in conflict-related abuse. A report by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) points this out.
In a statement issued to The EastAfrican on Wednesday, the mission said despite a general decline in Violence against civilians in South Sudan, cases of conflict-related sexual violence have more than doubled compared to the same period last year.
“From January to March 2022, UNMISS documented 63 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, 28 compared to the same time in year-ago.
“Overall, 173 incidents affected a total of 754 civilian casualties, reflecting a 32 percent decrease in incidents and roughly the same number of civilian casualties compared to the same quarter in 2021,” UNMISS said.
According to the mission, civil protection groups and militias accounted for the majority of perpetrators of violence against civilians (64 percent), followed by conventional parties to the conflict (34 percent).
“The majority of the violence was associated with inter- or intra-communal forms of conflict, particularly in Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria, and Warrap States. The Human Rights Department notes that intercommunal violence, particularly cattle-related conflicts, has been concentrated in areas where communities are competing for scarce resources, which is exacerbated by climate change.
“The 2021 floods, the worst in decades, have increased and contributed to food insecurity and livelihood destruction. UNMISS continued its extensive conflict prevention and response activities throughout the reporting period,” the UN mission added conducted 1,002 short-range patrols, 75 long-range patrols and 93 air patrols.
“UNMISS Human Rights Branch participated in 216 patrols and 31 operations to monitor violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.
“At the same time, the Mission engages in political and community consultations at the local, state and national levels to advance lasting political solutions to conflicts,” said UNMISS.
Head of Mission Nicholas Haysom said UNMISS will do its best to combat conflict-related sexual violence in South Sudan.
“UNMISS is already supporting efforts to Promoting protection, the rule of law and accountability through the rapid establishment of temporary bases of operations, support to mobile courts and the provision of specialist training in the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.
“With violence escalating in several parts of the country, UNMISS urges the government of South Sudan to investigate human rights violations and abuses and to hold all perpetrators accountable,” Haysom said.
In January this year, the Center for Gender-Based Violence at Juba Teaching Hospital in Central Equatoria state registered 29 cases of sexual assault, including that of a two-year-old girl.
Most of the incidents were in the suburbs reported by Juba.
According to Samuel Legge, the doctor responsible for the facility, it is s I am involved in the cases of physical assault, desecration and rape of women and girls.