The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office today released a joint report entitled "Attacks against civilians in Greater Upper Nile, South Sudan." The report, which took several months of painstaking work, finds reasonable grounds to believe that between August and December 2022, gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law were committed in the Greater Upper Nile region during fighting between armed groups that split from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) group.The report documents gross human rights violations and abuses and serious violations of international humanitarian law, including attacks directed against civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks, abductions, sexual violence, including rape, gang rape and sexual slavery, and the recruitment and use of children in hostilities, committed by the parties to the conflict, mainly the Kitgwang faction and the Agwelek forces – backed by their respective allied militias/groups.UNMISS and the UN Human Rights Office documented at least 884 civilian casualties of which 594 had been killed and 290 injured. In addition, 258 were abducted and 75 women and girls subjected to sexual violence. The conflict has engendered a humanitarian crisis that has displaced over 62,000 civilians and led to significant destruction of civilian property.The report follows 165 investigative missions conducted by UNMISS and the UN Human Rights Office, that have also led to the identification of at least 22 individuals who may bear the greatest responsibility for these violations and abuses. “The violations and abuses documented in this report are egregious. Accountability and justice are crucial, particularly for gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law, some of which may amount to atrocity crimes,” said Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “I call on the Government to take immediate steps to ensure all those responsible are brought to justice. Impunity will only perpetuate the precarious human rights situation in the country.”"These findings are deeply troubling and underscore the urgent need for all parties involved to prioritize the protection of civilians,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) and Head of UNMISS. He added that the recent deployment of the Necessary Unified Forces to Malakal, Upper Nile State, gives confidence that the government is taking steps to mitigate the reoccurrence of violence and to protect civilians.UNMISS and the UN Human Rights Office urge the Government of South Sudan to intensify efforts to stop the mobilization of armed elements in South Sudan; and appeal to international partners to support humanitarian organizations in providing legal, medical, and psychosocial assistance to the survivors of these violations and abuses.
1 Dec 2023