UN envoy on sexual violence warns rapes in South Sudan will ‘haunt’ generations

Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

South Sudan, 6 October 2014 – The horrors of sexual violence in South Sudan did not end with the ceasefire agreement, a senior United Nations official today said calling on citizens of the world’s youngest country to stand together and say “enough is enough.”

Speaking at a press conference on her first visit to the country, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura, said that armed men – civilians and soldiers from all parties to the conflict – are responsible, and some carry on the acts.

“If allowed to continue, these rapes will haunt South Sudan for generations to come,” she said, adding that they will also “undermine the peace that South Sudan has fought for.”

“I have come to South Sudan to demand that all parties of conflict end the raping and the violence,” Ms. Bangura underscored.

She in visiting the country to also discuss what measures can be taken to prevent and respond to the widespread violations taking place.

Since the latest outbreak of conflict last December, many innocent women, men, girls and boys were subjected to attacks.

“These included rapes, gang rapes, rapes with guns and bullets and sexual slavery” the Special Representative said. “After being raped, some victims were mutilated and disgraced. Some were killed or died of the injuries sustained.”

A report released by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in May confirmed that civilians were not only caught up in the violence, they were directly targeted, often along ethnic lines.

Primarily based on more than 900 interviews with eye witnesses and victims, the report provides a succinct timeline of the conflict, which was sparked by a political dispute between President Salva Kiir, who belongs to the Dinka ethnic group, and former vice-president Riek Machar, who belongs to the Lou Nuer, and finds that “from the very outset…gross violations of international law…occurred on a massive scale.”

In her remarks, Ms. Bangura urged both parties to make sure those responsible are brought to account, telling the culprits, “we will come after you, there is no hiding place.”

She called local communities, national governments and the international community to give those who have suffered rape the care and support they need.

“It is the rapists who should be shunned and shamed, not those who were raped,” she said. “What happened to you was not your fault. You are not alone.”

Ms. Bangura also had spoke directly to all the people in South Sudan, “I call on all of you to stand together and say – enough and enough.”

The Special Envoy’s visit wraps up tomorrow.