South Sudan war: rape, cannibalism and famine

Rape, cannibalism, child slaves, ethnic massacres and desperate famine are some of South Sudan civil war consequences since it started in December 2013, has stated the African Union (AU) report published last Tuesday.

Children displaced by fighting in Bor rest upon arriving in Mingkaman refugee camp. (File photo: AP)

The youngest country in the world gained its independence in 2011, but peace didn’t last long; South Sudan’s armed conflict began as a power struggle between the President, Salva Kiir, and the vice president, Riek Machar, who was dismissed. It soon became a multi-ethnic conflict throughout the country that has caused the death of tens of thousands of people and 2 million displaced.

Some investigators said that they have seen the perpetrators “draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh”. The report also pointed out other atrocities such as “acts of murder, rape and sexual violence, torture and other inhumane acts of comparable gravity, outrages upon personal dignity, targeting of civilian objects and protected property, as well as other abuses”. Both sides have been accused of these human rights violations that mainly targeted civilians. However, they deny these actions.

The consequences of the war are devastating; according to a United Nation’s report “almost a million people are living in a “catastrophic” situation and nearly four million people especially children are suffering severe hunger”. The conflict has left a third of the country’s population in risk of famine. Some organizations as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Unicef and World Food Programme (WFP) are publishing official summaries to report the severe situation in South Sudan and say that humanitarian intervention is necessary to save the population from absolute misery.

Some people walked for hours and even days because they were desperately needing food, water and medicine. Some families have been eating grass and leaves for months and health-workers said that these people could actually develop serious problems in their kidneys if they consume it over a long period of time. “People are on the edge of a catastrophe that can be prevented”, said WFP chief Joyce Luma.

There are some other conclusions of the AU report that can be problematic for the president, for example that in 2013 there was no risk of a coup d’état, a supposition that originated the conflict and motivated government-organised attacks.

Things are getting worse as peace deals are broken and mass crimes such as torture, mutilations, forced cannibalism, rape and killings continue and worsen dramatically day by day. The violence has not allowed international and local humanitarian teams to deliver needed assistance. The UN has called on all sides of the country’s civil war to prevent the deaths of citizens and the international community claims for a real solution to a conflict that has been going on for too long.


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