The Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has recently expressed grave concern at the continued level of violence in several areas of South Sudan.
In a statement, the UN adviser said he is particularly alarmed at the situation in Kajo-Keji, in Central Equatoria south of Juba, where civilians have fled in fear of violence en masse. He further said that the access of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to and around Kajo-Keji has reportedly been restricted despite the serious security situation, as peacekeepers were initially blocked from accessing the area.
The statement noted that the freedom of movement of residents has also reportedly been limited, saying some have reportedly been instructed to leave Kajo-Keji. Others who fled their homes and moved towards the border area between South Sudan and Uganda were reportedly intercepted by government forces, according to the statement.
Adama pointed out that various areas in the Equatorias, among other regions, have been similarly targeted, and some 20,000 people were displaced from Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile in the last week, following violence that left many without emergency health care, safe drinking water, food and shelter.
“President Salva Kiir has made a commitment to end the violence and bring about peace, yet we still see ongoing clashes, and the risk that mass atrocities will be committed remains ever-present”, said Adama. He indicated that the peace process has yet to be accompanied by a complete cessation of hostilities, undermining the likelihood that the National Dialogue proposed by the government will be seen as credible.”
“If South Sudan is to achieve peace, all belligerents must urgently cease hostilities and invest in the peace process to settle their differences, before the territorial fragmentation and destruction of the social fabric of this young country become irreversible.”
A South Sudanese Anglican Bishop has accused government soldiers of allegedly raping women and young girls as well as detaining men in a village along Juba-Nimule highway, which has lately experienced series of attacks on travelers.
Bishop Paul Yugusuk of Lomega Diocese in Eastern Equatoria said soldiers carried out massive sexual assaults on women in Kubi village, about 50 km on Juba-Nimule road. “We don’t know the exact number of women who were raped but we have five [women and girls] here in Juba Teaching Hospital. Most of them are underage girls and women”, Yugusuk told reporters after visiting the victims in Juba on Monday.
According to the cleric, testimonies given by the victims pinned government soldiers stationed in Nesitu, a military outpost south of Juba that provides protection for vehicles traveling from Juba to Nimule, a South Sudanese town bordering Uganda. “46 young men have been arrested and tortured. 42 [of the men] have been released but four are still missing. We don’t know their whereabouts”, he said. Bishop Yugusuk said the village was also looted and the entire population had fled. “There are only fifteen elderly people left there right now”, he added.
The South Sudanese military (SPLA) spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang, however, declined to comment on allegations blamed on pro-government soldiers. “We just heard the allegation and we are still trying to get the truth from field commanders,” Koang told Sudan Tribune by phone on Tuesday. There have been attacks on passenger vehicles on the Juba-Nimule highway in recent weeks, which have been blamed on the armed opposition faction loyal to South Sudan’s former first vice president Riek Machar. The SPLA have started escorting all vehicles on the 192km road leading to Uganda.