9 August 2016
United Nations envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has promised to “fight’’ to the end to ensure that all perpetrators of rape and violence against women and girls in crisis-torn South Sudan are held to account.
At least 217 cases of sexual violence were documented in the capital, Juba, between July 8 and July 25.
Speaking on UN Radio Miraya on Monday, Bangura said it was extremely important for the government to end such crimes.
She said she was “very angry and very disappointed’’ that such crimes were still being committed after several rounds of meetings with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar and the communiques signed in 2014 by the two leaders to end and prevent sexual assaults.
“I am an African woman and I have seen how these women have suffered,’’ the United Nations quoted her as saying in the radio interview.
“They suffered through years of long civil war. Then they celebrated, for the first time in their lives after the country achieved independence, only to have their hopes and expectations shattered,’’ when the country subsequently plunged back into war, she added.
Having long deplored sexual violence crimes as a “brutal feature’’ in the South Sudan conflict Ms. Bangura said she had been particularly angered by the new allegations that surfaced in the aftermath of the latest clashes between the rivals and their respective factions.
Fresh crisis erupted in December 2013 when a political face-off between Kiir and Machar boiled over.
According to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a preliminary UN investigation into the recent fighting and its aftermath revealed that government security forces carried out killings and rapes.
The investigation also showed that they looted and destroyed properties.
Ms. Bangura expressed her profound sympathy for the civilians and said: “all actions should be taken by the government to put an end to this.
“The first obligation for any government is protecting its own citizens; children can’t go to school; people can’t go to work; women can’t get water – they cannot do anything without peace.
“These are their people. If you don’t protect your own people, you’re actually inviting the international community to come provide protection for your own citizens.’’
Bangura added: “but for me, one thing I will fight for until I leave the UN is to make sure all the people who are committing these crimes in South Sudan are held accountable. The women and children of South Sudan do not deserve to be treated like this.
“Those who think they will get off ‘scot-free’ must be joking because we will go after them. It doesn’t matter who they are or where they are. We will go after them and hold them accountable for these crimes.’’