The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] reported [text, PDF] on Tuesday that a violent period in July 2016 left hundreds of civilians dead, along with more than 200 incidents of sexual assault. The report details violence that occurred between July 8 and July 12, 2016, in the midst of a conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO). UNMISS recorded 217 instances of rape by both armed groups, as well as many arbitrary arrests. Further, the government of South Sudan “clamped down” on journalists during and after the conflict; “journalists were harassed and intimidated through arrests, threats of violence, and some media houses were shut down.”
South Sudan has spent much of its brief history as a nation in civil war. In December the UN Security Council failed [JURIST report] to pass an arms embargo against South Sudan. Two weeks earlier, a UN spokesperson warned [JURIST report] that South Sudan “teeters on the brink of disaster.” The UN also said [JURIST report] in December that ethnic cleansing was occurring in South Sudan. In September the UN announced, and South Sudan accepted [JURIST report], that it would increase UN peacekeeping forces in the nation from 14,000 to 18,000 in an attempt to stop civilian killings, sexual assaults, and destruction of both public and private property. South Sudan was officially recognized [JURIST report] as an independent nation in July 2011. Conflicts over natural resources, ethnic tensions, and political power have plagued the nation since its inception.