FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The United States is outraged by reports of assaults and rapes of civilians, including humanitarian aid workers and journalists, by South Sudanese soldiers in Juba at the Terrain Compound last month. Attacks against brave individuals attempting to help the people of South Sudan are attacks against humanity itself. All innocent civilians deserve protection.
It is especially reprehensible that the perpetrators appear to have targeted those who came to South Sudan despite risks to their own personal safety to help the country and its people – thereby depriving the South Sudanese people of urgently needed assistance and compounding this man-made humanitarian crisis. Throughout this three-year conflict, the Government of South Sudan has routinely allowed impunity for murder and sexual violence. This must end. South Sudan’s leaders must investigate this incident and hold accountable the individuals responsible for these cowardly and brutal assaults.
During the fighting throughout the city, the U.S. embassy in South Sudan responded to distress calls from the compound and urgently contacted South Sudanese government officials, who sent a response force to the site to stop the attack. We are deeply concerned that United Nations peacekeepers were apparently either incapable of or unwilling to respond to calls for help. We have requested and are awaiting the outcome of an investigation by the United Nations and demand swift corrective action in the event that these allegations are substantiated.
This horrific incident further underscores the need for an enhanced, assertive, and more robust international peacekeeping presence in Juba in order to better prevent crimes against civilians and the further deterioration of security in the capital. Last week, the UN Security Council mandated the creation of a robust unit of 4,000 peacekeepers to respond swiftly to security challenges in South Sudan.
The parties to the conflict must immediately cease attacks against innocent civilians and recommit to settle the conflict and leave the South Sudanese to live in peace at last.