More than 150 women and girls have sought treatment in the past 12 days for rape and other acts of sexual violence near Bentiu, the second largest city in South Sudan, UN officials say.
A joint statement from the UN humanitarian chief and the heads of the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the UN population agency condemned the “abhorrent attacks.”
They said that “the assailants have been described as armed men, many in uniform.”
A UN statement said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attacks.
“These horrific acts are a distressing reminder of how, despite recent recommitments by South Sudan’s leaders to a cessation of hostilities and a revitalised peace agreement, the security situation for civilians remains dire, especially for women and children,” the statement said.
Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and UN Population Fund Executive Director Natalia Kanem called on authorities “to publicly denounce the attacks and ensure that those responsible for these crimes face justice.”
In the first half of 2018, they said, some 2300 cases of gender-based violence were reported to medical and aid groups in South Sudan, the vast majority perpetrated against women and girls and over 20 per cent against children.
“The actual number of cases is far higher, as gender-based violence continues to be severely under-reported,” the UN officials said.