Dec 04, 2018 19:41 Asia/Tehran
  • Military in South Sudan rape over 150 women: UN

At least 150 women and girls have been raped in attacks by armed men — many in military uniforms — in South Sudan over the past 12 days, said three UN agencies.

Iran press/Africa: The women and girls were violently raped in the northern city of Bentiu, according to a joint statement on Monday by head of the UN’s children agency, or UNICEF, Henrietta Fore; UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock; and the director of the UN Population Fund, Natalia Kanem.

They said, however, that the actual number of victims was far higher because the violence was severely under reported.

The statement condemned the “abhorrent attacks” and called on South Sudanese authorities to ensure that the perpetrators face justice.

Doctors without Borders (MSF) said in a report last week that 125 women and girls had been raped while walking to emergency food distribution centers set up by international aid agencies.

It said many of the victims had also been “whipped, beaten or clubbed with sticks and rifle butts” and robbed of their clothes, shoes, money, and the ration cards entitling them to food aid.

“In more than three years of working in South Sudan, I have never seen such a dramatic increase in survivors of sexual violence arriving at our programs looking for medical care,” said Ruth Okello, an MSF midwife in South Sudan.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who described the attacks as “horrific,” urged all parties in South Sudan “to ensure the safety of civilians and address impunity for these crimes through investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.”

“These horrific acts are a distressing reminder of how, despite recent recommitments by South Sudan’s leaders to a cessation of hostilities and a revitalized peace agreement, the security situation for civilians remains dire, especially for women and children,” he said in a statement.

A UN report in October said armed men from opposition forces abducted women and girls — as young as 12 years — for commanders to take them as “wives.” It said that those who were chosen were repeatedly being raped and abused by other military figures as well.

A UN panel of experts warned in a report last month that there were “alarming levels” of sexual violence and human rights abuses in the country.

South Sudan's conflict is now entering its fifth year since it erupted in late 2013.

A 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting.

The brutal conflict has left nearly 400,000 people dead and millions of others displaced, a report said earlier this year.

Earlier in July, The United Nations human rights agency said at least 232 civilians have lost their lives and 120 women and girls raped this spring during attacks launched by South Sudan government soldiers and their allied forces in opposition-held rural areas. 208/103

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