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UN: Ukraine war cut funding for emergency care for victims of sexual violence in South Sudan

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News briefing

Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice

Geneva: 25 September 2022

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in South Sudan said that the war in Ukraine has drastically cut funding for emergency medical and psychosocial care for victims of sexual violence in South Sudan.

Gang rape:

“It is difficult to comprehend that we are now seeing women in South Sudan who have been gang raped in the conflict up to five times in the last nine years. Just imagine what it means to be raped by multiple armed men, pick yourself up for the sake of your children and then for it to happen again and again and again,” said Yasmin Sooka, Chairperson of the Commission.

“During a visit completed this week to Western Equatoria, members of the Commission’s Secretariat were told that survivors were like zombies, physically and emotionally dead, after

experiencing so many brutalizing rapes since 2013. The most recent case the Commission documented occurred last month, but a very substantial number of victims are believed never to report the incidents, especially if they live surrounded by the perpetrators. The youngest victim was 7 years old, who was left for dead after being abducted from her home by two men who then raped her,” she added.

The chairperson noted that access to medical and trauma care for victims is becoming increasingly difficult as services are vanishing.

Sooka stated that in Unity State, the commission saw young children playing with used syringes scattered on the ground around a destroyed medical clinic, while in other places, the commission learned that health workers had fled their posts in fear, and that NGOs were being left to fill the void but they reported that their funding had been cut dramatically, although there is an increase in demand, especially for psychological and social services, and for awareness outreach about kits that if used in time can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Kidnapping and rape:

“It’s not that there is a lot of sexual violence in South Sudan. It’s that for half the population – women and girls – sexual violence is how they primarily experience the conflict. And it’s not that sexual violence ebbs and flows – it’s going on all the time, largely unseen. It’s only that we cannot document it consistently throughout the country and that the international community’s attention is elsewhere,” said fellow Commissioner, Barney Afako.

The commission reported that they saw young girls with children around military bases, and heard multiple accounts of soldiers from government and opposition forces abducting women. In other cases, displaced families left the camps due to starvation and went home to grow crops or collect firewood, only to be attacked.

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