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PRESS RELEASE: UNMISS Human Rights Brief: Community-based militias responsible for the majority of violence against civilians; government urged to step up responsibility to protect

Community-based militias were responsible for the majority of violence against civilians between July and September 2023, according to the latest United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) human rights brief.The Mission documented at least 215 incidents of violence impacting 641 civilians, mostly by killing, injury, abduction, and conflict-related sexual violence over this period. Incidents attributed to community-based militias and/or civil-defense groups, accounted for 77 percent of victims documented.Compared to the previous quarter (Apr-Jun 2023), this marks a three per cent decrease in violent incidents (222 to 215) and a 26 per cent decrease in civilians harmed (from 871 to 641). The number of civilians killed decreased by 19 per cent (from 395 to 321), the number of people injured decreased by 18 per cent (from 281 to 231). The number of abductions decreased from 166 to 65, while the number of victims subjected to CRSV decreased from 29 to 24. Warrap, followed by Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria, remained the most affected states in the country, accounting for 440 of the victims throughout South Sudan.Despite an overall reduction in civilian casualties attributed to conventional parties to the conflict, since the signing of the R-ARCSS in 2018, the brief notes that recurring hostilities between the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces and the National Salvation Front state continues to adversely affect the protection of civilians in parts of Central Equatoria. The brief also raises critical human rights concerns, including an increase in sexual and gender-based violence. South Sudan, as a State Party to international human rights treaties, is legally obligated to protect the rights of all persons within its territory. “Violence against civilians is unacceptable and undermines the notion of justice and the rule of law. It is critical that the Government of South Sudan, all signatory parties, as well as the national and community leaders prioritize safety, security, and the protection of civilians,” said Nicholas Haysom, the Secretary General’s Special Representative to South Sudan and the Head of UNMISS.UNMISS pledges its support to leaders and authority figures across South Sudan in addressing the challenges faced in monitoring and reporting violations, and to make concerted efforts towards comprehensive actions to curb violence against civilians.