The UN special adviser on genocide prevention has expressed grave concern at the continued level of violence in several areas of South Sudan.
Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, said more than 52,000 South Sudanese fled to Uganda in January alone, coming primarily from areas in and around Yei, Morobo, Lainya and Kajo-Keji.
“President Salva Kiir has made a commitment to end the violence and bring peace, yet we still see ongoing clashes, and the risk that mass atrocities will be committed remains ever-present,” Dieng said in a statement released on Tuesday night.
He said the peace process has yet to be accompanied by a complete cessation of hostilities, undermining the likelihood that the National Dialogue proposed by the Government will be seen as credible.
According to the special adviser, some 24,000 arrived between Jan. 25 and 31, of which 4,500 arrived on Jan. 28.
Many have given accounts of the killing of civilians, destruction of homes, sexual violence, and looting of livestock and property, and cite fear of arrest and torture, he added.
Dieng was particularly alarmed at the situation in Kajo-Keji and Central Equatoria, where civilians have fled in fear of violence.
The access of the UN peacekeeping mission to and around Kajo-Keji has reportedly been restricted despite the serious security situation, as peacekeepers were initially blocked from accessing the area.
“If South Sudan is to achieve peace, all belligerents must urgently cease hostilities and invest in the peace process to settle their differences, before the territorial fragmentation and destruction of the social fabric of this young country become irreversible,” Dieng said.
He said freedom of movement of residents has also reportedly been limited. Some have reportedly been instructed to leave Kajo-Keji.
“Others who fled their homes and moved towards the border area between South Sudan and Uganda were reportedly intercepted by government forces,” Dieng said.
Those seeking refuge report using a number of informal border crossing points to enter Uganda, as armed groups are preventing the use of major roads, forcing them to travel through the bush often without access to food and water. Enditem