South Sudan peace monitors on Wednesday said they are currently investigating the recent rape and sexual violence against women and girls in the northern town of Bentiu.
The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) in Juba said it was extremely saddened and outraged by the reports of rape and sexual assaults against women and girls in Bentiu between Nov.19-29.
“These allegations are being investigated by the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM),” it said in a statement issued in Juba.
“According to their preliminary investigation status report submitted to JMEC Wednesday, they have confirmed that the alleged incidents occurred in the south of Bentiu,” said the statement.
At least 125 women and girls sought medical treatment after having been raped or sexually assaulted in a 10-day period as they walked along roads near Nhialdu and Guit on their way to Bentiu.
“JMEC strongly condemns this brutal and horrendous attack on defenseless women and girls on their way to relief centers which was reportedly carried out by hooded men in uniform,” it revealed.
JMEC called upon the South Sudan government to conduct a speedy, transparent and timely investigation into the attacks and apprehend the perpetrators, hold them to account and urge that CTSAMVM be given full access and support to complete its investigations.
“The hard-won peace agreement in South Sudan remains the best chance for long-lasting peace to end the suffering of the people. All steps must, therefore, be taken to ensure its sanctity is protected and violations are dealt with by the full application of the law,” said JMEC.
South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the worst refugee crises in Africa, as some 4 million South Sudanese are displaced internally and externally, according to United Nations estimates.