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UN: South Sudan Top Officials Sponsoring Conflict in Western Equatoria

Women and children were said to have been raped and sexually assaulted, before being killed. A least 80,000 civilians are said to be displaced. Hundreds of children became separated from their parents.

The UN panel of experts on Human Rights in South Sudan has said that political elites are responsible for the ongoing deadly conflict in Tambura County in Western Equatoria State.

The UN experts said nine of the 10 states in South Sudan are engulfed in violence – with recent violence between the Azande and the Balanda communities in Tambura resulting in the massacre of more than 100 civilians.

Women and children were said to have been raped and sexually assaulted, before being killed. A least 80,000 civilians are said to be displaced. Hundreds of children became separated from their parents.

“The South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/In Opposition (SPLA/IO) are responsible for arming the Azande and Balanda communities.

South Sudan’s leaders and political elites are active participants and enablers of this violence,” Yasmin Sooka, chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, told the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The SSPDF and the SPLA-IO have not commented on the UN report.

The South African human rights lawyer said the failure to establish a joint army command structure had heightened tensions in the country.

The Azande and the Balanda communities have been living peacefully together in the Tambura area for centuries. Intermarriage was common as a result of the religious and ethnic tolerance.

But in July this year Alfred Futuyo Karaba, the governor of the south-western state, accused four prominent politicians residing in the capital, Juba, of fermenting the violence in Tambura – an allegation they denied.