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Escalation of fighting worsens suffering of civilians: UN official


May 22, 2015 (JUBA) – Escalation of fighting in recent weeks between South Sudan government forces and its armed opposition has resulted in alarming gross violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Friday.

Thousands of people wait for food aid in the hot sun near the air drop zone in Leer, South Sudan, in July 2014 (Photo AFP/Nichole Sobecki)

The clashes, he said, have had intolerable suffering on civilians.

“For more than 17 months, women, men and children have been senselessly suffering through an entirely man-made catastrophe, living in the most inhumane conditions. More than two million people have been robbed of their homes, their livelihoods, their security, having lost family members to death and forced recruitment,” said Zeid.

“And now, over the past few weeks, the opposing parties have actually managed to make a terrible situation much, much worse.”

At least 10,000 more people, Zeid stressed, have joined an estimated 60,000 internally displaced people in the UN’s protection of civilian sites in Bentiu, in Unity State, in recent weeks, many trekking on foot over long distances in very treacherous conditions, with the constant threat of being waylaid and attacked by armed groups.

Another 1,600 internally displaced people are reportedly seeking protection at the ill-equipped and vulnerable UN base in Melut, Upper Nile state, where seven died after shells landed at the base.

“These people have been living in terrible conditions and I shudder to imagine how much more the humanitarian situation can worsen with the onset of the rainy season. The unrelenting, indefensible conflict in South Sudan should enrage the conscience of each and every one of us in the international community,” said Zeid.

The senior UN official further expressed concerns over alarming reports of gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law since the escalation of fighting on 29 April, including killings, rapes, abduction and the burning and destruction of towns and villages in various counties of Unity State.

There has been heavy fighting around the town of Melut and the main oilfields of Paloch, and there are fears of a further, damaging escalation in the conflict.

Zeid said UN human rights monitors have been denied access by the SPLA to various sites in Unity State where they have sought to verify allegations of human rights violations and abuses. He also urged the authorities to allow such access.

The UN High Commissioner noted that successive commitments to end the hostilities have failed to be implemented and there has been a “shameful lack of justice and accountability for victims of such gross violations in South Sudan.”

“Such persistent impunity has left many with unresolved grievances that are easily mobilised for renewed violence and revenge attacks,” Zeid warned, adding that “The fight against such impunity must be a priority if any peace in South Sudan is to hold.”

He warned the parties to the conflict that they must take all feasible measures to prevent harm to civilian lives and infrastructure, including the personnel and premises of the UN and humanitarian agencies.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 23 May 2015 15:52, by Ahmed Chol

    A change of heart is needed for the suffering to stop. Or a brave action should be taken by world powers to rescue south sudan local population from extermination by their leaders.

    repondre message

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