Rabat - UN human rights experts on Thursday said "ethnic cleansing" was under way in South Sudan.
Rabat – UN human rights experts on Thursday said “ethnic cleansing” was under way in South Sudan.
“There is already a steady process of ethnic cleansing underway in several areas of South Sudan using starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages; everywhere we went across this country we heard villagers saying they are ready to shed blood to get their land back,” said Yasmin Sooka of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.
“Many told us it’s already reached a point of no return.”
Sooka was part of a three-member team which travelled to battleground towns including Bentiu, Malakal and Wau to gather facts about the situation in the world’s youngest country.
Jarring testimony gathered by the team during their 10-day visit shows a nation on the brink of “catastrophe”, said a statement issued by the commission.
“The stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda and the international community is under an obligation to prevent it,” said Sooka.
South Sudan’s current conflict began nearly three years ago when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy and political rival, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.
Hopes that an August 2015 peace deal would bring peace to the young nation were dashed when fighting erupted in Juba in July, leading to a surge of violence around the country characterised by divisions between the country’s 64 tribes.
“The scale of rape of women and girls perpetrated by all armed groups in South Sudan is utterly unacceptable and is frankly mind boggling,” said Sooka. Sooka said that many of the warning signals of impending genocide are already there.
“An existing conflict, resort to polarised ethnic identities, dehumanisation, a culture of denial, displacement based on ethnicity and in some places indications of systematic violations and planning — but the important thing is there is still time to prevent it,” she said.