Middle East

Group: Desperate situation for many South Sudan civilians

Women stand with their children and belongings in rebel held Bauw village in Koch county of South Sudan's Unity state, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Swampy, oil-rich Koch County bore the brunt of a government offensive launched in late April. The army and its allied militias raped and murdered civilians and burned villages in that campaign, according to the U.N. Now the government controls most towns in the area and the rebels operate from the countryside. (AP Photo/Jason Patinkin)  . .

Women stand with their children and belongings in rebel held Bauw village in Koch county of South Sudan’s Unity state, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Swampy, oil-rich Koch County bore the brunt of a government offensive launched in late April. The army and its allied militias raped and murdered civilians and burned villages in that campaign, according to the U.N. Now the government controls most towns in the area and the rebels operate from the countryside. (AP Photo/Jason Patinkin) . .

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Despite a peace agreement, violence against civilians is continuing with killings, rapes and abductions, a consortium of more than 300 civic and aid groups in South Sudan said Thursday.

The humanitarian situation is deteriorating amid persistent fighting, with aid groups having trouble getting to hard-hit communities, South Sudan’s NGO Forum said in a statement Thursday.

“This conflict is driving up the cost of delivering assistance and risking the lives of thousands of people in need,” it said.

Between April and September at least 1,000 civilians were killed, and 1,300 women and girls were abducted in three counties in the volatile state of Unity, it said, citing a report by the Global Protection Cluster.

South Sudan’s warring factions signed a peace deal in August, but they have since been trading accusations over repeated violations of a cease-fire, especially in the contested states of Unity and Upper Nile.

The situation for civilians is “desperate and getting worse” as fighting spreads to another state, Western Equatoria, according to the NGO Forum.

Aid groups such as the International Committee of the Red Cross have had to limit their operations in violence-prone areas, leaving many civilians without access to relief supplies.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed by South Sudan’s conflict and 2 million have been displaced, according to the U.N.

Under the terms of the peace deal that was signed under the mediation of regional leaders, rebel leader Riek Machar, whose firing in July 2013 sparked a political crisis that later boiled over into a rebellion against President Salva Kiir, is expected to return to his post as Kiir’s deputy in November.

The fighting has often been along ethnic lines, pitting soldiers loyal to Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against those from Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

 

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