People fleeing violence in Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, South Sudan, arriving at UNMISS base on 15 April 2014 to seek shelter. © UNMISS
It seems like the grim situation in South Sudan isnt getting better anytime soon. Coming few days after the killing of Internally displaced persons at the UN compound in Bor, South Sudan, the former vice president and leader of the rebels, Reik Machar has denied that his side took any part in the massacre of hundreds of people in the contested town of Bentiu.
The United Nations has accused them of killing more than 200 people in one mosque alone when they re-captured the town last week after a battle with government forces. Toby Lanzer, the UN’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan, said in Twitter posts late on Sunday that there were shocking scenes of atrocities, with “bodies of people executed” lying in the streets of Bentiu.
Former Vice President Machar, who was dismissed from office by President Salva Kiir in July 2013, told the new organization, Al Jazeera on Tuesday that his rebels would not kill their own people.
Thousands of people in South Sudan have been killed in violence and more than 1 million people have been forced to leave their homes since December when troops loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to Machar began to fight along ethnic lines.
Since the rebels have denied the gruesome massacre, the pertinent question therefore is; who perpetrated this atrocity? The international community should really look into these matters because they actually constitute war crimes. If the UN maintains that the rebels actually committed the massacre, immediate steps should be taken to prevent these repeated deaths of innocent civilians. It is never enough to just speak against or condemn these attacks. The level of violence and human rights violation in South Sudan is actually alarming and I fear a humanitarian condition if the violence further escalates.