Sexual violence ‘rampant’ in South Sudan: U.N.
U.N. official says a two-year-old child is among the victims of sexual violence in South Sudan
Rape and other forms of sexual violence by all sides in South Sudan's civil war have become so widespread that a 2-year-old child was among the victims, the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in armed conflict said on Monday.
“In my 30 years of experience, I've never witnessed anything like what I saw in Bentiu,” Zainab Hawa Bangura told reporters about a recent trip to the northern town, one of South Sudan's regions worst hit by the conflict.
“The IDPs (internally displaced persons) seeking refuge there face a combination of ... insecurity, unimaginable living conditions, acute day-to-day protection concerns and rampant sexual violence,” she told reporters.
Fighting erupted in December in South Sudan - which declared independence from Sudan in 2011 - after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and political rival, Riek Machar. Peace talks brokered by African regional bloc IGAD have yet to bring an end to the bloodshed.
“Survivors and health care workers told me heartbreaking stories of rape, gang rape, abduction, sexual slavery and forced marriage,” Bangura said. “Those who try to fight back against their attackers are often raped with objects instead. Some victims have even been raped to death.”
She said the victims included women, men, girls and boys, with 74 percent of them below the age of 18, according to South Sudanese hospital officials.
“The youngest victim they have treated is 2 years old,” Bangura said.
She said both sides in the conflict have committed sexual violence, adding that orders had been given within the military forces to perpetrate rapes on the basis of ethnicity.
Bangura added that said a radio station in Bentiu called Radio Bentiu FM was used to broadcast appeals for men to rape women and girls based on their ethnic backgrounds and what was believed to be their political loyalties.
At the end of Bangura's trip to South Sudan, she and the government signed a communique outlining steps that would be taken to put an end to the rapes, adding that the message must be sent across the military's chain of command, Bangura said.
She was especially concerned about the lack of psychological and medical care for the victims.
“I am also concerned about the lack of reporting of this crime due to the closure of government offices, insecurity in the country, malfunctioning police services, (and) a lack of capacity by the police and medical service providers,” she said.
The conflict in South Sudan has killed more than 10,000 people, caused over 1 million to flee and driven the country of 11 million closer to famine. By year-end, a third of the people could face the threat of starvation, the United Nations said.
Last month the United States warned Kiir and Machar to engage in serious peace talks to end nearly a year of violence in the world's newest state or face U.N. Security Council sanctions.
South Sudan factions agree on federal governmentThe regional power mediating peace talks announced the structure of a transitional government of national unity were “mostly agreed on.” Africa
South Sudan bans all foreign workers despite looming famineSouth Sudan suffers from a major shortage of skilled workers Africa
South Sudan warring rivals miss deadline for unity governmentWarring rivals in South Sudan missed a 60-day deadline Sunday to forge a unity government, despite warnings of famine and the threat of sanctions if ... Africa
U.N. Security Council threatens sanctions on South Sudan leadersThe warning came in a unanimous statement agreed to ahead of a South Sudan visit by Security Council ambassadors next week Africa
South Sudan peace talks resume as famine loomsPeace talks to end South Sudan's more than seven month-long civil war resumed Monday, with mediators warning rival leaders would face repercussions if ... Africa
U.N. threatens sanctions against South Sudan rivalsThe Security Council expressed “deep concern” over the deteriorating situation in South Sudan, since fighting broke out last December Africa
South Sudan patients ‘shot in hospital beds’Thousands have been killed in the conflict in the world's youngest country, while more than 1.5 million have been forced to flee Africa
Sudan summons U.S. envoy over ‘apostasy’ womanThe Christian-convert woman reportedly attempted to travel to the United States using documents issued by South Sudan Africa