A top UN human rights official has condemned systematic atrocities committed against women and children in South Sudan, stating, “The only way of ending this onslaught will be when the perpetrators face consequences for what they are doing.”
Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for human rights, made a four–day visit to Malakal, South Sudan in mid-February to investigate the suffering of civilians in the area. During his visit, he heard many accounts of human rights violations being committed by both government and opposition troops on women, children, and men. While men avoid torture or abduction by remaining in the protection of civilian sites, women must risk likely rape to get meagre resources for their families from the town markets.
Mr. Gilmour strongly urged military leaders to put a stop to human rights violations being perpetrated by their troops. He also met with government and civil society leaders, pressing the need for unimpeded access of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan personnel to places they are needed.
Days after the visit, in the wake of famine declaration in the country, President Salva Kiir has said he will ensure “unimpeded access” for aid organizations. However, other countries remain wary of such promises. A U.S. State Department spokesman called on President Kiir to expediently deliver on his promise.
A peace agreement was made in 2015 in an attempt to end the civil war that began in December 2013 when President Kiir accused his former vice-president of plotting to overthrow him. However, the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of South Sudanese continues, and has resulted in economic collapse and a declaration of famine.
Listen to the full radio interview with Andrew Gilmour here: “Senior UN human rights official condemns deplorable rights situation in South Sudan”, Radio Miraya, on audioBoom, 20 February 2017.