Peace guarantors willing to join Leer clashes probe

Peace guarantors willing to join Leer clashes probe
The remains of a burnt house from the deadly clashes in Leer County, Unity State. Peace guarantors are willing to support the committee probing the causes of violence. [Photo: MSF]

The guarantors and monitors of the peace agreement have pledged support to the investigation committee probing Leer clashes to dig out the causes of the recent violence. 

They include the African Union (AU), the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), the African Diplomatic Corps (ADC), the European Union and its member states (EU), the Troika, and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

They spoke after a one-day visit to Bentiu, Leer, and Mirmir on May 12, 2022, to acquaint themselves with the situation in the areas, especially in Adok Port and surrounding areas where clashes took place. The delegation said the situation warrants quick investigation and expressed readiness to support the process. 

After meeting with the state governor, the county commissioners of Koch, Leer and Mayendit, along with traditional leaders, women, youth, and others directly impacted by the conflict, said their interactions with people during the visit revealed that a lot of human rights violations were committed during the violence.

“The joint delegation heard accusations and counteraccusations on the atrocities committed, leading to deaths, injuries, abductions, sexual violence against women, displacements, as well as the destruction of civilian property and the burning of schools,” they said.  

 “The joint delegation supports government efforts towards restoring the rule of law and holding perpetrators to account. The joint delegation stands ready to support the committee in its work and urges the investigation committee to deploy swiftly to the area,” partly read Thursday’s statement. 

In April, dozens of civilians, including an official of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), were killed in Leer clashes. The government and armed opposition group forces traded accusations over the violence.

According to the Unity State officials, 35 lives of unarmed civilians were claimed and dozens injured, sparking condemnation by Leer residents and international humanitarian agencies. 

Rights violations

According to UNMISS, the violence was characterised by gang rape and beheadings of the unarmed civil population.

The agency added that 64 cases of sexual violence were recorded by its human rights, adding that two survivors were repeatedly gang-raped after they had come out of their hideout to buy food for their children, among them a lactating mother who had just given birth.

It further noted that 72 deaths cases of civilians and at least 11 injuries were documented, allegedly committed by the armed youth from Koch and Mayendit counties during a surge in violence over the past months since February 17.

Amnesty International on Wednesday released a new report titled, “If you don’t cooperate, I’ll gun you down’ claiming that guns have been used to facilitate conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) in South Sudan, hence, the need to stay the sanctions against South Sudan. 

It accused the government soldiers; the National Security Service (NSS), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), and the rebel National Salvation Front (NAS) as well as unarmed men of committing the act. 

 But the government denied all the accusations.