The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says community-based militias were responsible for 78 per cent of killings and injuries caused to civilians, abductions and sexual violence during attacks in pockets of South Sudan.
The Annual Brief on Violence Affecting Civilians, released by the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, documented the killing of 2,421 civilians in 2020, more than double the previous year. More than 1,500 people were injured, up from 866.
The figures represent an increase in violence compared to 2019.
The violence was concentrated in just 13 per cent of the country’s 540 payams (administrative areas) and largely involved community-based militias rather than conventional parties to the conflict. The level of violence also remains lower than the period prior to the signing of the 2018 peace deal.
The report raises particular concern about a sharp spike in abductions by more than 300 per cent. Many of the victims were children stolen from their families during militia-led raids. Men were also abducted by conventional parties for forced military recruitment and labour. The report notes a 21 per cent reduction in cases of conflict-related sexual violence documented in 2020.
“The surge in subnational violence is deeply concerning and has had a devastating impact on the lives of communities already suffering huge economic deprivation due to flooding in areas like Jonglei,” said the Head of UNMISS, David Shearer.
Many of the victims of violence were killed or injured during a wave of attacks by armed community-based militias across Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, as well as in Warrap and Lakes. The report further says in some cases, the community-based militia groups were supported by local and national elites driven by political and economic interests.