The United Nations on Monday said that at least 72 civilians were killed over a seven-week period in a single country in South Sudan, with some beheaded and women experiencing sexual violence.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement said that additional peacekeepers have been deployed to Leer country in Unity state, following a surge of violence, including “rapes, gang rapes, beheadings, burning civilians alive, and attacks on humanitarians.”
The conflict between February 17 and April 7 in Leer reportedly forced 40,000 people to flee their homes. According to UNMISS, their investigators recorded 64 cases of sexual violence during that time.
A pair of survivors reported that they were repeatedly raped and gang-raped after they came out of hiding to find food for their children. A woman said that she was raped and severely beaten for three days.
“I am strongly appalled by these horrific attacks on civilians in Leer. We must all do everything we can to ensure that victims and survivors get the justice they deserve and receive the care and support they need,” said Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan and head of UNMISS.
Haysom urged national and local authorities to take immediate measures to reduce tensions and prevent further escalations and retaliatory attacks.
Meanwhile, UNMISS said that almost nine million people, with children accounting for more than half, will need aid to survive this year.
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