The United Nations has urged South Sudanese authorities to prosecute the men who raped women and girls in a village in the oil-rich Bentiu State last week.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres said in a statement shared with the media on Tuesday that South Sudan leaders, from both the government and the opposition, should end the persistent impunity against women and girls in the war-ravaged state.
“I urge the leaders of all the parties to the conflict and future leaders in the Transitional Government of National Unity to ensure the safety of civilians and address impunity for these crimes through investigation and prosecution of perpetrators, including through the operationalisation of the Hybrid Court, as an immediate priority,” Mr Gutteres said.
He expressed frustrations following the revelation of the rape of some 125 women and girls on a road leading to a World Food Programme (WFP) distribution point in Bentiu, in the north.
Cessation of hostilities
“These horrific acts are a distressing reminder of how, despite recommitments by South Sudan’s leaders to a cessation of hostilities and a revitalised peace agreement, the security situation for civilians remains dire, especially for women and children,” Mr.
He pointed out that rape and other forms of sexual violence have been a consistent feature of the conflict in South Sudan, used both as a tactic of war and a driver of forced displacement.
The South Sudan warring factions inked a peace deal in September, bringing former rebel leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir together again for the third time.
A UN report in October blamed South Sudanese soldiers for most of the killings and rapes of children carried out in the country.
The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Virginia Gamba, told the Security Council that the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had carried out nearly 80 percent of the 987 killings or maiming of children documented by the agency between October 2014 and June 2018.
The SPLA was also responsible for more than 90 percent of 658 verified incidents of sexual violence against children during that period, she added.
Most of the cases involved "gruesome gang rapes," the UN envoy said.