August 2, 2016 (JUBA) – United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned rape and sexual violence in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, adding that it has intensified its patrols in and around the Protection of Civilians (PoCs) site as well as in the wider Juba city area, following reports of sexual violence, including rape.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, UNMISS also reportsed that as an enhanced protection measure, it is working with community leaders and partners to coordinate the peacekeepers escorts of women and young girls leaving protection sites to collect food and other items.
The Mission said it takes very seriously recent allegations that peacekeepers may not have rendered aid to civilians in distress, and it is looking into the specific allegations, in line with established protocols.
“UNMISS has reinforced the message to all peacekeepers that if these incidents of abuse are committed in areas for which they have responsibility, they have the individual and joint duty to act, to prevent harm to innocent civilians,” it said.
The UN condemned unequivocally the actions of sexual violence, and reminds all combatants and parties to the conflict in South Sudan, their commanders, and responsible leaders, that the acts of sexual violence constitute grave violations of international human rights law and may be regarded as war crimes as well as crimes against humanity.
It blamed government soldiers for the rapes and other forms of sexual violence in the capital.
Also the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) said that fighting has escalated around Juba between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to former First Vice President, Riek Machar, saying the situation in South Sudan as a whole has been getting increasingly tense.
Refugee flows from South Sudan into Uganda have doubled in the past ten days, according to UNHCR. It said it is helping some 52,000 people who have fled to Uganda, including an increasing number of severely malnourished children.
The refugees say armed groups on roads to Uganda were preventing more people from fleeing South Sudan in anticipation of a renewed conflict between rebel and government forces. The armed groups were looting villages, murdering civilians and forcibly recruiting young men and boys into their ranks.
The WHO (World Health Organization) said that inside South Sudan an outbreak of cholera had caused 21 deaths by the end of July. Some 586 cases have been reported, with an average of 35 new hospital admissions per day.
Stephen O’Brien, the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), is in South Sudan to visit some of the affected people and renew his call for funding.
The humanitarian response plan inside South Sudan has asked for almost $1.3 billion, but it is only 40 per cent funded.
There are 1.61 million internally displaced people inside the country and another 4.8 million people there are food insecure. Mr. O’Brien is scheduled to give a press briefing in Juba tomorrow on Wednesday.