Eighteen months after the start of conflict in December 2013, during which the scale and intensity of fighting has vacillated, fighting flared again in April 2015 and has been accompanied by allegations of serious human rights violations and abuses. Within days after the latest fighting started, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Human Rights Division (HRD) started receiving reports from civilians fleeing the fighting from rural areas in Unity and later from Upper Nile and northern Jonglei about alleged killings, rapes and abductions, along with the looting and destruction of civilian objects and humanitarian assets.
In accordance with its mandate to monitor, investigate and report on such allegations, HRD started interviewing civilians arriving at the protection of civilians (PoC) sites in Rubkona/Bentiu and gathering information from various partners operating in the areas. Parallel contacts were established with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and government officials, in addition to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLA/M-IO), to gain access to the sites of alleged human right violations and seek further information about allegations. HRD has been able to gather information from various sources that confirm the upsurge in fighting in several parts of Unity, as well as in Upper Nile, painting a grim picture in the aftermath of the fighting of its impact on the civilian population in these areas.
The upsurge in fighting and associated allegations of atrocities in Greater Upper Nile has drawn widespread condemnation from international actors, including various senior United Nations officials, the African Union, diplomatic missions and human rights organizations. HRD hopes that this report will contribute to the efforts to bring an end to the violence, to hold perpetrators to account for the human rights and humanitarian law violations that they have committed against civilians, especially women and children, and end the pervasive and persistent impunity.