UN human rights experts begin visit to South Sudan

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A team of experts from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights began a six-day visit to South Sudan on Monday to discuss the current human rights situation in the country.

The two Commissioners – Yasmin Sooka and Andrew Clapham – are scheduled to meet government officials including key ministers and the First Vice President, members of civil society, religious leaders, diplomats, and UN agencies and staff of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, David Shearer.

Sooka and Clapham will visit camps for internally displaced persons across the country, including UNMISS Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites, to meet the people living there, community leaders and civil society organisations.

They will then hold a news conference on 15 December in Juba.

South Sudan continues to be dogged by violence, which has killed tens of thousands and forced millions others to flee their homes.

The conflict began in December 2013 following accusations by President Salva Kiir that his then-deputy Riek Machar was plotting to overthrow his government. Machar denied the allegations but then went on to mobilize a rebel force to fight the government.

A peace deal signed in 2015 saw the formation of a unity government led by Kiir and Machar, but did not last long as clashes broke out in the capital in July 2016.

Regional leaders and the international community are urging the warring factions to engage in talks to end the conflict. Machar however remains in South Africa where he went to seek medical attention following attacks in 2016, but has not been able to return to South Sudan.

The UN experts, upon completing their visit of South Sudan, will head to Uganda and Ethiopia, where they will also visit refugee camps and settlements along the South Sudanese border.

They are also scheduled to meet with African Union leaders, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), senior UN officials, as well as other members of the international community and opposition groups in Addis Ababa.

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