The United Nations has condemned a wave of “brutal” sexual attacks on women and girls in the northern town of Bentiu in South Sudan which took place in what it described as a government-controlled area of the region.
South Sudan has suffered a wrenching five-year civil war and, despite a fragile peace accord signed two months ago by the government and rebel groups, remains riven with ethnic grievances and awash with weapons. Civilians from rival groups bear the brunt of the violence and cycle of revenge.
The U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said approximately 125 women and girls have sought medical treatment after having been raped or sexually assaulted during a 10-day spree of violence in Bentiu. Victims reported that the attacks were carried out by young men in civilian clothing or military uniforms. It said they were also beaten and robbed.
The head of the U.N. mission, David Shearer, said in a statement that UNMISS peacekeepers have immediately sent patrols to the area to provide a protective presence and that its human rights team has launched an investigation to identify the perpetrators.
The mission also urged armed forces in the area to guarantee command and control over their troops to ensure rogue elements within their ranks are not involved in these criminal acts.