This photo taken on July 1, 2016 shows people waiting to be registered as displaced persons in a South Sudan Red Cross compound in Wau, South Sudan. (By AFP)
The United Nations (UN) has documented at least 120 cases of sexual violence against civilians in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, since fierce clashes erupted there three weeks ago.
The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan continued to receive “deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, by soldiers in uniform and men in plain clothes against civilians, including minors, around UN House and in other areas of Juba,” Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the international body, said on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, heavy fighting raged through the East African country’s capital between troops loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebels backing his former deputy, Riek Machar, claiming the lives of at least 272 people before a shaky ceasefire was called.
Haq noted that UN peacekeeping soldiers had increased patrols in an attempt to provide protection for women after reported rapes.
The UN peacekeeping force is protecting tens of thousands of people at camp sites located in Juba and elsewhere in South Sudan.
A child wades through mud as people receive rations of water at the UN compound in the Tomping area in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, July 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
According to the UN, about 36,000 people fled their homes because of the recent violence in Juba, with 7,000 of them taking refuge at its compounds.
Thousands of South Sudanese fleeing the violence were, meanwhile, clamoring to cross the border into Uganda.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also called on “all armed parties to ensure safe passage for people fleeing the fighting
“UNHCR is also worried about the situation of some 9,000 urban refugees, who have told UNHCR about their security concerns as well as difficulties in getting food and water,” it said in a statement on its website.
A bloody civil war in South Sudan began in December 2013, when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup against him. The two parties then got involved in a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the impoverished country along ethnic lines.