The United Nations peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has released a report stating that conflict-related violence claimed the lives of over 1,600 civilians across the country in the past year.
This number represents an increase in civilian deaths from the previous year.
According to the report, 48% of the killings were committed by conventional parties involved in the conflict, including government security forces, organized opposition armed groups, and their allied proxy armed elements.
The UN has attributed the rise in civilian deaths to inter-communal violence and clashes between government forces and rebel groups, exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a dire humanitarian crisis in the country.
The situation in South Sudan has been complicated by the civil war that began in 2013 following a dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.
The conflict has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of people.
In response to the report, the UN has called on South Sudan’s government and opposition groups to prioritize the protection of civilians and work towards lasting peace in the country.
The UN’s special envoy to South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, has urged the international community to continue supporting efforts to stabilize the country.
President Kiir has acknowledged the increase in civilian deaths and promised to take action to address the situation. He has called for a national dialogue to resolve the conflict and urged all parties to lay down their arms.
Despite several ceasefire agreements, violence and instability continue to persist in South Sudan, leaving many South Sudanese skeptical about the prospects for peace in the country.
As the country marks its tenth year of independence, there is a growing sense that more needs to be done to build a stable and prosperous future for all South Sudanese.