April 16, 2018 (JUBA) – In a report to the Security Council, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said sexual violence in South Sudan remains characterized in 2017 with marked political and ethnic undertones
“In almost all recorded cases, the perpetrators and victims came from rival ethnic groups, with the physical violence often accompanied by verbal insults levelled against victims on the basis of their identity and presumed allegiance,” reads the report
However, it said the UN peacekeepers in the war-ravaged country were not able to document all the cases due to the severe restriction of access to the conflict-zones and relocation of affected persons to other regions or foreign countries.
Nonetheless, UNMISS in 2017 documented 196 cases of conflict-related sexual violence including rape (88), gang rape (63), abduction for the purpose of sexual assault (31) UNMISS and attempted rape (14).
The peacekeeping mission 577 verified cases in 2016.
Regarding the perpetrators of the sexual assaults, the secretary-general said: “The attacks were attributed to SPLA (67), the pro-Taban Deng Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in- Opposition (SPLA-IO) (4), the pro-Machar SPLA-IO (7), the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) (1), the South Sudan People’s Patriotic Front (SSPPF) (2), militia allied to SPLA (5), militia allied to SPLA-IO (4), the South Sudan National Police Service (1), with the remainder attributed to unidentified gunmen”.
In a recent report the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said that rape, mutilation of sexual organs and other forms of sexual violence were perpetrated against women, girls, men and boys, often in front of relatives, in order to humiliate victims, families and entire communities, or as a form of punishment.
The report pointed that none of the incidents has been prosecuted to date.
The secretary-general said the UNMISS was working last year with the South Sudanese authorities to strengthen accountability particularly to implement the joint communiqué on sexual violence.
The UN mission facilitated training for 310 members of SPLA and 85 officers of the national police to reinforce individual and command responsibility for preventing and addressing sexual violence. It further increased the speed of patrols, including firewood patrols, and establish weapons-free zones around sites for the protection of civilians.
The report also mentioned the ongoing trial of SPLA soldiers charged with crimes, including the rape and gang rape of humanitarian workers housed at the Terrain hotel compound in 2016.
By the end of 2017, there were almost 2 million displaced persons, including 209,898 living in UNMISS sites for the protection of civilians. While two other civilians fled across the border to neighbouring countries.