The United Nations Mission in South Sudan says it’s extremely concerned over increased reports of violence and armed conflict in various parts of the country in the last few weeks.
In a press release this afternoon, the UNMISS information department said their forces in Leer town have reported heavy artillery and gunfire exchanges between SPLA and SPLA in Opposition leading to several reported deaths and the continued displacement of the civilian population in the area into the bush and swamps.
“We have also received continued reports of clashes in the Equatorias, and we are verifying accounts of attacks by unidentified armed men on a civilian convoy travelling from Yei to Juba, which led to the deaths of over 20 people, including women and children, and retaliatory actions by responding military personnel, which led to the deaths of a further five civilians.”
The Mission said it is yet to be granted access to these areas to place them in a position to independently verify the reports on the ground.
“ UNMISS has attempted to launch a number of patrols to the scene of the incident, and have been stopped on each occasion. We are in direct communication with several government agencies, including the SPLA, in order to have these restrictions to our movement lifted, as yet without success.”
The Mission statement concluded by condemning in no uncertain terms these acts of violence and attacks against non-combatant civilians, and reiterates its urgent call for an immediate and complete cessation of hostilities, and more particularly, an end to any form of violence perpetrated against unarmed civilians, reminding all parties that such attacks may constitute serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“We call on all parties to immediately end the fighting throughout South Sudan, and further demands that they ensure that their commanders control their forces and protect civilians and their property, cease all hostilities, and work together for the good of the people of this country.”