Tuesday, October 06, 2020

South Sudan is Self-Destructing

  South Sudan has made no concrete steps toward national healing more than two years after the end of a civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and sent more than 2 million people fleeing, a new United Nations report says.

Now some government forces are fueling new fighting by arming community militias with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns to attack neighboring communities, says the report by the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. It’s a bleak look at what the authors call “the government’s manifest lack of political will to end impunity for serious crimes.”

The “staggering scale” of sexual violence, as well as corruption and the use of starvation as a weapon of conflict, remain dangers in a country ranked as one of the worst in the world to live. More than half the population is hungry, and COVID-19 is spreading through a nation whose health system was largely shattered.

Instead of peacebuilding and accountability, “political violence is spiraling out of control at the inter-communal level but driven by national actors who arm ethnic militias and paramilitary groups with military-grade weapons using the ostensible cover of cattle-raiding, which in turn leads to reprisals and revenge killings – all under the cover and control of parties to the conflict in South Sudan,” the report says.

Despite the formal end of the war, vicious fighting continues in parts of the country including Jonglei state, where hundreds of people have been killed this year. The survivors now face flooding that has displaced more than a half-million people, further imperiling food security as prices rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel.

In September, the U.N. secretary-general warned that South Sudan is one of four countries that face the risk of famine. In Jonglei, he said, the attacks on agricultural and pastoral land and the looting of livestock and food has left more than 1.4 million people facing crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity. At least 350,000 children have severe or moderate acute malnutrition.


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