South Sudan

UNMISS and partners scale up response to insecurity around Juba PoC sites

Radio Miraya/Filip Andersson

Following deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence against civilians in the vicinity of the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site at UN House in Juba, UNMISS and partners are stepping up efforts to protect vulnerable girls and women. An investigation into reported incidents has been launched, UNMISS security patrols are now more frequent and the UN Population Fund UNFPA is distributing dignity kits.

More than 100 recorded cases of rape against women and minors around the Jebel neighbourhood, next to the UNMISS head office UN House, have led to concerted efforts to increase the security of girls and women in the area.

“Currently the mission is providing protection to over 35,000 people at the PoC sites in Juba, with another 4,000 civilians taking temporary shelter at the UNMISS Tomping site. We have also stepped up patrolling in and around the PoC sites in Juba. The priority very much remains delivery of assistance to those in need and protecting civilians at the PoC sites as well as UN personnel and premises”, says Shantal Persaud, Acting Spokesperson of UNMISS, in an interview with the Radio Miraya Breakfast Show.

Acts of sexual violence reportedly committed by uniformed and plain-clothed men in the Jebel area and in other locations in the capital are being documented, and the mission has launched an investigation into exactly what has taken place.

“We continue to document deeply disturbing reports of sexual violence including rape and gang rape against civilians, including minors, around UN House and in other areas of Juba. When these reports are completed they will be forwarded to the UN Secretary-General, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as to the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in conflict for recommendations on appropriate further action”, says the Acting Spokesperson of UNMISS.

Coordinating schedules with women and girls who for various reasons need to temporarily leave the PoC sites is another part of the measures taken to increase their safety. According to Shantal Persaud, such coordination makes it possible for UNMISS peacekeepers to accompany groups of women going out at the same time.

“We have intensified our patrols in and around the PoC sites, as well as in the greater Juba city area. We are also coordinating with the women and the girls at designated times when they are looking to leave the PoC sites to go out and purchase food items, so we can provide a protection peacekeeping escort for them”.

The United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, the UN agency leading the response to gender-based violence, is also taking action to mitigate the occurrence of sexual violence and to support victims of such despicable acts.

“They have put a referral system in place in the PoC, as well as a special clinical management service for rape victims. Both these services are currently ongoing in the PoC sites. UNFPA have also supported by giving out post-rape kits. In addition, they have distributed more than 7,000 dignity kits to the most vulnerable women and girls.”