- Title: UN envoy warns of genocide in South Sudan
- Date: 15th November 2016
- Summary: JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN (FILE) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF SOUTH SUDAN PRESIDENT SALVA KIIR SIGNING PEACE DEAL SOUTH KORDOFAN, SOUTH SUDAN BORDER (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF DAMAGED OIL PIPELINES
- Embargoed: 30th November 2016 10:10
- Keywords: Human Rights Violations Abuses Conflict Fighting Ethnic war Genocide prevention
- Location: YEI, JUBA AND SOUTH KORDOFAN, SOUTH SUDAN/ YUMBE, UGANDA
- City: YEI, JUBA AND SOUTH KORDOFAN, SOUTH SUDAN/ YUMBE, UGANDA
- Country: South Sudan
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA00258K26AD
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The United Nations envoy on genocide prevention Adama Dieng has warned that South Sudan is at risk of plunging into "an outright ethnic war" and genocide.
Speaking to the media wrapping up a five-day visit to South Sudan this week, Dieng said the purpose of the visit was to better understand the landscape of ethnically-fuelled violence, including hate speech and incitement to violence, and to provide assistance where requested.
His trip also included visiting Yei River state, which until recently had been spared the widespread violence of other areas, but Dieng said he heard reports of violence that included targeted killings, assault, maiming, mutilation, rape, and the barbarous use of machetes to hack families to death.
"I am dismayed to report that what I have seen, what I have heard has confirmed my concerns that there is a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines with the potential for genocide," said U.N. Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide Dieng.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
But war broke out in 2013 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of former Vice-President Riek Machar.
A peace deal signed in 2015 failed to stick and fighting in Juba flared up in July, prompting Machar to flee after returning to the capital just a few weeks earlier.
Dieng said that during the course of this week, he has seen extreme polarization between some tribal groups, which has increased in certain places since the outbreak of violence in July.
According to Dieng, inflammatory rhetoric, stereotyping and name calling have been accompanied by targeted killings and rape of members of particular ethnic groups, and by violent attacks against individuals or communities on the basis of their perceived political affiliation, and the media, including social media, are being used to spread hatred and encourage ethnic polarization, and letters threatening specific groups have surfaced in the last month.
"I heard reports of violence that included, targeted killings, assault, maiming, mutilation and rape by armed men, some in uniform and others, not. There were cases of the barbarous use of machete, which remind me of the Rwanda hundred days," he added.
Dieng also noted that the perpetrators and victims are not all the same, which makes an assessment of the risk of atrocity crimes in South Sudan very complex, but warned that the patterns are there.
"Conversations with all actors has confirmed that what began as a political conflict has transformed into what could become, what could become, an outright ethnic war. With the stalling of the implementation of the peace agreement, the current humanitarian crisis, a stagnating economy and a proliferation of arms; all of the ingredients are there for a dangerous escalation of violence," he added.
Dieng said he will inform the international community of his assessment, call for action and speak with members of the African Union and the Security Council, as well as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
South Sudan's conflict has killed thousands, and uprooted nearly 2.5 million people and fuelled a major hunger crisis.
More than 6.1 million are in need of aid, according to the International Organization for Migration.
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