The UN said on Tuesday that 32 people, including women and children, were slain in armed raids in a South Sudanese province beset by inter-ethnic violence. On January 23, armed youths from a different ethnic group opened fire and set fire to two villages in the unstable Jonglei State, forcing civilians to flee.
Three children drowned in a river while attempting to flee, according to the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).At least 26 people were injured, ranging in age and gender, while some are still missing two days after the bloodshed in Baidit.
"UNMISS strongly condemns any attack on civilians and urges all parties and individuals to take prompt measures to avoid further escalation that puts vulnerable people in danger," the statement said. "The Mission further urges authorities to conduct prompt investigations and hold those responsible accountable."
When South Sudan attained independence in 2011, the UN peacekeeping operation was deployed for a year, but its mandate was extended many times as the young country struggled with civil conflict and high levels of ethnic violence. In armed attacks by ethnic militias in the eastern state of Jonglei, more than 700 people were slain, raped, and abducted between January and August 2020.
UN investigation revealed that political and military leaders were involved in the violence, in which militias razed communities in coordinated attacks on their opponents, using machetes, machine guns, and even rocket-propelled grenades. Nicholas Haysom, the UN's special envoy for South Sudan, informed the UN Security Council in December that the number of civilians killed in local violence in the nation had approximately half in 2021 compared to the last year.
However, instability persists, and over two years after assuming control in Juba, a post-war coalition administration has failed to end armed bloodshed or prosecute those guilty. After years of conflict between their troops killed roughly 400,000 people, President Salva Kiir and his deputy and longstanding nemesis, Riek Machar, created a power-sharing administration in 2020.