Clashes between rebel groups and armed forces started on Sunday 9th April 2017 and gunfire erupting inside the town of Wau on 10 April 2017 killing at least 16 people and injuring 10. Witnesses described ethnic militias going door to door searching for people from specific groups. Reports suggest that the militias were aligned to the government’s side. Residents have reported that soldiers blocked off roads leading to the UNMISS protection site allowing only 84 people to seek refuge at the protection site. Another 3,000 mostly women and children have sought shelter in a Catholic church.
Since 2013, South Sudan is a state damaged by war with civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict. Civilians are deliberately targeted, raped, murdered and tortured with total impunity. War, poverty and famine have resulted in 2.3 million people displaced and fleeing for their lives. Specifically, underlying tensions in addition to the wider civil conflict have further polarized communities in Wau.
SIHA is deeply alarmed by the escalation of ethnic conflict and the continuous victimization and targeting of civilians in Wau, specifically women and children.
SIHA condemns all forms of discrimination on ethnic grounds and urges adherence to International Humanitarian Law, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention which specifically protects people who are not taking part in the hostilities.
SIHA calls upon the African Union, IGAD and the UN to adhere to their recent collective commitments in their press statement of 29 January 2017 where they declared their cooperation in support of the South Sudan peace process.
Image Source: VOA