Reports continue of "widespread sexual violence" in South Sudan

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IDP’s seek protection in UN base in Juba during government military clashes on 08 July 2016. UNMISS Photo

Continuing reports of "widespread sexual violence" against women and girls around the South Sudanese capital Juba, have been "unequivocally" condemned by the UN Mission, UNMISS.

Reports of "deeply disturbing" sexual attacks began as soon as fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and then First Vice President Riek Machar, erupted on July 8.

The mission said that so far there had been more than 100 separate cases of sexual violence and rape “against unarmed innocent civilians”.

Matthew Wells has more.

UNMISS said in a statement that the reported crimes include "rape and gang rape" by "soldiers in uniform and also by unidentified armed groups of men in plain clothes."

Various locations have been involved, including the vicinity of the Protection of Civilian Sites near UN House.

Despite calls to "all parties to cease from this kind of inhuman behaviour," said UNMISS, reports were still coming in.

Although a ceasefire was agreed between government and opposition in mid-July, fighting is continuing, which has led to thousands more displaced and rampant food insecurity.

The Mission said that in order to improve the security of vulnerable communities, including women and children, patrols had been intensified around protection sites.

Peacekeeping escorts for women and young girls were also being coordinated, to allow them to leave sites to collect food and other supplies.

Responding to media reports about the conduct of UNMISS personnel, the mission said it was taking "very seriously" allegations that peacekeepers "may not have rendered aid to civilians in distress".

UNMISS said they would be investigated fully and that all peacekeepers had "an individual and joint duty to act" if any harm or abuse was being carried out.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'06"

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