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Press briefing note on South Sudan

Spokespersons for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:  Cécile Pouilly
Location:  Geneva
Date: 12 July 2016
Subject:   South Sudan

We are extremely concerned at the rapid deterioration of the security and human rights situation in South Sudan. Since Thursday, the capital Juba has experienced repeated clashes between soldiers loyal to President Kiir and those backing First Vice President Machar. So far, according to Government figures, at least 272 people have been killed, including 33 civilians. 

In spite of the call for calm by the two leaders in a joint press conference on Friday, and a brief lull on Saturday, heavy fighting resumed in Juba on Sunday and yesterday, with both sides blaming each other for the escalating violence.

We are deeply concerned at reports of civilians being prevented from seeking refuge in the premises of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and, in some cases, being shot at while trying to do so. We are also deeply worried at reports that UN compounds and “protection of civilians” sites have been directly caught in the fighting and apparently at times directly targeted.

According to UNMISS, eight people were killed, and 59 injured, in or around “protection of civilians” sites between Sunday and Monday.

We strongly condemn the killing of two peacekeepers and several injured yesterday. Attacks against civilians and UN premises and personnel may constitute war crimes.

Another hugely worrying development is that there are indications the violence has started to spread to other States. Armed clashes reportedly erupted yesterday in Mundri, Lainya, Kajo-Keji and Yei, in Central Equatoria State, as well as in Torit, in Eastern Equatoria State. 

We welcome the ceasefire declared by President Kiir and Vice President Machar yesterday afternoon. We call on both leaders to exercise their leadership and make a concerted and genuine effort to stop their respective forces from fighting each other, as well as to do their utmost to ensure the protection of the civilian population. 

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org)

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