South Sudan: Soldiers Rape UN Camp Girls by the Dozen While Peacekeepers Watch

Displaced residents take shelter at the UN compound in the Tomping area of South Sudan's capital Juba on July 11, 2016

An Associated Press report cites numerous witnesses as stating that a mass rape of women and girls in a United Nations camp for the displaced occurred last week in full view of UN peacekeepers, who did nothing to prevent the attacks.

“They were seeing it. Everyone was seeing it. The woman was seriously screaming, quarreling and crying also, but there was no help. She was crying for help,” said one unnamed eyewitness to the gang rape of a woman in public. Another eyewitness said she saw four females — two underaged girls — gang raped by ten soldiers per person, and one of the girls died as a result of the rape.

The rapes appear to be racially motivated: the soldiers belong to the ruling Dinka ethnic group, while most victims are ethnic Nuers. Neither army spokespeople nor UN representatives denied the rapes to the AP. Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang told the AP they had not received any formal complaints about the rapes, therefore could not do anything to punish the perpetrators.

The AP adds that the number of rapes occurring in and around the UN camps is unclear but estimates all reach into the dozens of victims.

South Sudanese government soldiers raped dozens of ethnic Nuer women and girls last week just outside a United Nations camp where they had sought protection from renewed fighting, and at least two died from their injuries, witnesses and civilian leaders said. UN representatives estimated between 27 and 70 gang rapes in the past week. The camp in question houses 30,000 internally displaced people, who have been forced to flee their homes by the ongoing civil war that has continued since South Sudan became a sovereign state in 2011 with the blessing of the Obama White House. Two million people have been displaced by the violence nationwide.

The violence inflicted on Nuer civilians by the soldiers of South Sudanese president Salva Kiir, himself of Dinka ethnicity, is not limited to rape, though rape has certainly become a key instrument of terror against the Nuers. A report in The Nation last year quotes one woman who described rape as “just a normal thing” that all females in the country must endure as part of being South Sudanese.

Some months after the publication of the Nation report, an investigation found that the violence inflicted on civilians extended to horrific scenarios encompassing far more than rape. The African Union report accused South Sudanese soldiers of “extreme cruelty exercised through mutilation of bodies, burning of bodies, 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 rape incidents described by the African Union report “involved maiming and dismemberment of limbs.”

The report was published shortly after Kiir and Nuer leader Riek Machar announced an official ceasefire, which appears to have never taken place in practice.

This July, President Obama announced that he had deployed 47 troops to South Sudan to protect American interests there.

The formation of South Sudan in July 2011 was heralded as a hallmark diplomatic achievement for President Obama and his chief diplomat, Hillary Clinton. “As we move ahead, the United States and the world will be there as South Sudan lays the foundation for its future,” Clinton wrote in an editorial for the Washington Post celebrating the nation’s independence that year.

The United States funneled millions into Salva Kiir’s administration to stabilize the country, despite reports of the rampant use of child soldiers. An Intercept expose published in June shows Clinton had a hand in writing waivers that allowed the United States to send Kiir money in violation of the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act. In welcoming Salva Kiir to Washington in 2011, she said:

“I’m betting on South Sudan, and I don’t like to lose bets,” she said at the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan, which was held in 2011 in Washington, D.C. It was, she said, her honor to welcome President Kiir to America. “We have a chance to raise up the first generation of South Sudanese who have not known and, God willing, never will know war.”

The State Department recommends to President Obama which nations should receive waivers from the law.

A report published this week reveals that, during her tenure as Secretary of State, Kiir’s government “doled out nearly $2 million to Washington, D.C. public relations and lobbying firms with ties to Hillary Clinton.”


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