South Sudan‘s military and political officials supporting community militias in the Grand Jonglei region must be held accountable for the violence that killed more than 700 people over a six-month period last year, the UN‘s office said on Monday. human rights organization, OHCHR. .
Between January and June 2020, organized and heavily armed militias from the Dinka, Nuer and Muerle communities carried out planned and coordinated attacks against villages in Jonglei and the Grand Pibor administrative zone (GPAA), according to a joint report released on Monday. by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and OHCHR.
“Six months after the last devastating attack in Grand Jonglei, it must be clear that these personalities at the local and national levels, who have deliberately fueled and exploited localized tensions, will be held accountable,” said the United Nations High Commissioner United for Human Rights, Michelle. Bachelet.
“The risk of these community militias rekindling gun violence is too serious to ignore. It is of the utmost importance that the government take effective measures to ensure that members of the security forces are prevented from supplying arms from government stocks to these militias, ”she added.
The report stresses that the Government of South Sudan must take full responsibility for the damage inflicted on civilians.
Murders, kidnappings, rapes
Over 738 people were killed and 320 injured during the reporting period, while at least 686 women and children were abducted and 39 women were raped.
The violence has also displaced tens of thousands of people. Civilian property and humanitarian facilities were looted or destroyed, and at least 86,000 cattle, worth more than $ 35 million, were stolen.
Although grassroots efforts to reconcile affected communities have been underway for months, authorities have failed to take significant steps to investigate and prosecute those responsible, the authors said.
The report found that at least 50 traditional and spiritual leaders, as well as military and political elites, supported the attacks, either directly or indirectly. Members of the government and opposition forces participated actively in the fighting, depending on their kinship, or as part of a move calculated to strengthen political alliances.
UNMISS peacekeepers were deployed to affected areas when violence erupted, establishing temporary bases and carrying out regular patrols to deter further attacks.
The United Nations Mission has engaged with political and traditional leaders, at the national and local levels, to promote reconciliation and support efforts to free the hundreds of women and children who have been abducted.
The report calls on the government to finalize the appointment of local administrators and assemblies across Jonglei and GPAA. The authorities are also urged to investigate all allegations of human rights violations and prosecute the perpetrators, and to ensure that state-owned weapons are stored securely to prevent theft or supply to community militias.
The authors also called for immediate action to facilitate the release and reunification of abducted women and children with their families.
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