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Civilians Targeted As Brutal Ethnic Violence Sweeps South Sudan

The Red Cross calls for an immediate end to South Sudan killings and the UN warns that civilians have been deliberately attacked.

by Alice Speri
Feb 25 2014, 9:55pm

UN Photo/Isaac Billy

A day after looting and burning left more than 100 people dead on the streets of Malakal, South Sudan, the International Committee of the Red Cross released a video calling for an immediate end to the violence that continues to engulf the world's newest country.

“We’re very worried about some of the reports we’ve been getting about attacks on civilians,” Melker Mabeck, head of the ICRC’s delegation to South Sudan, said in the video. “We are calling on all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian law.”

ICRC head of delegation Melker Mabeck denounced the escalating violence in South Sudan.

Fighting in South Sudan has left thousands of people dead and displaced at least 860,000. The United Nations has reported on "gross violations of human rights" that include rape, mass killing, and torture between December 15, 2013, and the end of January.

A UN report released last Friday claims that large numbers of civilians were deliberately targeted and killed along ethnic lines, and that many more were displaced for the same reasons. The report focuses on alleged human rights in fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir Mayardit, of the Dinka ethnic group, and former Vice President Riek Machar, who belongs to the Lou Nuer. Kiir ousted Machar, and the entire cabinet, in July 2013.

UNMISS, the UN mission to South Sudan, protects some 22,000 civilians in Malakal, while 50,000 more have been seeking refuge at UN bases across the country, the agency states.

In the video below, ICRC staff talk about the struggles of Sudanese fleeing the violence “with nothing, basically.” The group, which is currently the only food aid provider in the area, said that “hundreds of thousands of people” in South Sudan are in need of aid.

South Sudanese citizens displaced by the violence are now facing food shortages and the approaching rain season.

Photo via Flickr