UN condemns South Sudan sexual attacks

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The United Nations condemned a wave of “brutal” sexual attacks on women and girls in Bentiu in South Sudan which took place in what it described as a government controlled area of the region.

On Friday, the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said unknown gunmen raped 125 women during a 10-day spree of violence in Bentiu, but local officials disputed the report.

South Sudan has suffered a five-year civil war and despite a fragile peace accord signed two months ago by government and rebel groups, remains riven with ethnic grievances and awash with weapons. Civilians from rival groups bear the brunt of violence and the cycle of revenge.

The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said about 125 women and girls sought medical treatment after being raped or sexually assaulted along roads near Nhialdu and Guit on their way to Bentiu. Victims reported the attacks as being by young men in civilian clothing or military uniforms. They were also beaten and robbed, it said.
“The violent assaults happened in a government-controlled area,” David Shearer, head of the UN mission, said in a statement. “UNMISS peacekeepers immediately sent patrols to the area to provide a protective presence and our human rights team launched an investigation to identify the perpetrators.”

Shearer added: “The mission urges armed forces in the area to guarantee command and control over their troops to ensure rogue elements in their ranks are not involved in these criminal acts.”