No end to violence in South Sudan

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Violence against South Sudanese civilians increased sharply at the end of last year according to the United Nations (UN) mission in the world’s youngest country.

The latest quarterly brief compiled by UNMISS shows the number of civilians “harmed” was up 87% – without giving actual numbers- for last October/December compared to the same period the previous year.

The rise was accompanied by “a disturbing increase: in abductions and conflict-related sexual violence — up by 464 and 360% respectively compared to the previous year. The overall number of incidents of violence for 2022 was down on the previous year.

Violence in the last three months of 2022 was concentrated in Upper Nile, Warrap and Jonglei. More than half (53%) of civilian victims came out of the conflict between Agwelek Forces, the Kitgwang group and their respective allied armed militias in Greater Upper Nile. Many civilians were hurt by inter-communal violence in Warrap, Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states. “These conflicts were exacerbated by pre-existing communal tensions, climate shocks, food insecurity, disruption of livelihoods and devaluation of local currency – factors still contributing to cattle related violence and wider tensions,” according to UNMISS.

“This year is a make-or-break one for South Sudan to complete key benchmarks in the peace agreement and prepare for elections. This will not be possible if conflict, increasingly presenting ethnic or tribal dimensions, persists, and threatens to unravel hard-won peace gains. Abductions and sexual violence must stop,” Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and UN Head in South Sudan, said.

“The mission is all in its power to prevent or curb deadly violence in areas of greatest need undertaking peace advocacy and dialogues in addition to hundreds of patrols by land, air and river as well as establishing temporary operating bases in conflict hotspots,” UNMISS has it.