An Associated Press report cites numerous witnesses as stating that a mass rape of women and girls in a United Nations camp for the displaced occurred last week in full view of UN peacekeepers, who did nothing to prevent the attacks.
“They were seeing it. Everyone was seeing it. The woman was seriously screaming, quarreling and crying also, but there was no help. She was crying for help,” said one unnamed eyewitness to the gang rape of a woman in public. Another eyewitness said she saw four females — two underaged girls — gang raped by ten soldiers per person, and one of the girls died as a result of the rape.
The rapes appear to be racially motivated: the soldiers belong to the ruling Dinka ethnic group, while most victims are ethnic Nuers. Neither army spokespeople nor UN representatives denied the rapes to the AP. Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang told the AP they had not received any formal complaints about the rapes, therefore could not do anything to punish the perpetrators.
The AP adds that the number of rapes occurring in and around the UN camps is unclear but estimates all reach into the dozens of victims.
South Sudanese government soldiers raped dozens of ethnic Nuer women and girls last week just outside a United Nations camp where they had sought protection from renewed fighting, and at least two died from their injuries, witnesses and civilian leaders said. UN representatives estimated between 27 and 70 gang rapes in the past week.
The formation of South Sudan in July 2011 was heralded as a hallmark diplomatic achievement for President Obama and his chief diplomat, Hillary Clinton.