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South Sudan violence has killed 166 civilians, displaced over 20,000 – U.N.


Newly appointed United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk attends a news conference at Palais Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Violence in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state has killed 166 civilians and displaced more than 20,000 since August amid an escalation in clashes between armed groups, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

Violence is rife in parts of South Sudan where clashes triggered by domestic disputes over grazing areas, water, cultivation grounds and other resources often turn deadly.

The U.N. refugee agency said last week the conflict was a continuation of fighting that started in August in a village in Upper Nile, and has since spread to other parts of the state and areas of Jonglei and Unity states.

“These killings, along with reports of gender-based violence, abductions, destruction of property and looting, are severe human rights violations and abuses and must stop,” U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said in a statement.

South Sudan’s army spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang said the level of violence had started to ease since the military deployed forces to the area, pushing the fighters from rival communities back. He could not say how many soldiers had been sent.

“It is just a matter of time before the situation will be brought under control,” Koang said.

The latest bloodshed risks spreading beyond the region, Turk said, unless local authorities and community leaders act quickly to de-escalate tension between the armed groups.

“It is important that the government of South Sudan conducts a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the violence and brings all those responsible to account in accordance with international law,” he said.

The ongoing violence in South Sudan, which split from Sudan in 2011, contributes to an increase in abductions and sales of children, U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking in persons Siobhán Mullally said in a statement.

“Conflict-related sexual violence including trafficking, remains a serious concern,” Mullally said.