Re­peat of Rwanda in South Su­dan?

The Denver Post - - OPINION -

South Su­dan “is on the brink of catas­tro­phe,” a three­mem­ber U.N. com­mis­sion on hu­man rights de­clared last week af­ter a visit. The chair­man, Yas­mine Sooka, warned of a re­peat of the Rwan­dan geno­cide. “There is al­ready a steady process of eth­nic cleans­ing un­der­way in sev­eral ar­eas of South Su­dan us­ing star­va­tion, gang rape and the burn­ing of vil­lages; ev­ery­where we went across this coun­try we heard vil­lagers say­ing they are ready to shed blood to get their land back,” she said. “Many told us it’s al­ready reached a point of no return.”

The world re­sponded with a shrug. Af­ter long de­lays, the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was ex­pected to vote on a res­o­lu­tion Nov. 29 im­pos­ing tar­geted sanc­tions and an arms em­bargo, but then Rus­sia, China and oth­ers ex­pressed op­po­si­tion in one form or an­other, and the vote was put off. An ear­lier plan to send 4,000 peace­keep­ers for a re­gional pro­tec­tion force to join the 12,000 al­ready in South Su­dan has yet to be im­ple­mented. South Su­dan, the world’s youngest na­tion and an ex­am­ple of U.S. in­ter­ven­tion that of­fi­cials were proud to boast about just a few years ago, is ca­reer­ing once again into chaos. A re­port from the Coun­cil on Foreign Re­la­tions says the danger of geno­cide is real and pro­posed that the United Na­tions and African Union run the coun­try for 10 to 15 years to help it re­build.

Es­tab­lished out of the ashes of a long war in which mil­lions died, South Su­dan’s in­de­pen­dence in 2011 was a mo­ment of hope but it did not last. The forces of Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir and his ri­val and for­mer vice pres­i­dent Riek Machar went to war with each other in late 2013, a sense­less con­flict that ended with a peace agree­ment nearly two years later. But key as­pects of the deal have not been im­ple­mented.

The re­port from the U.N. team was alarm­ing. Vi­o­lence is spread­ing through re­gions of South Su­dan, such as Cen­tral Equa­to­ria, that had pre­vi­ously been quiet. Ms. Sooka said she found “an in­crease in hate speech, a crack­down on the me­dia and civil so­ci­ety, deep­en­ing di­vi­sions be­tween the coun­try’s 64 tribes,” and a re­newed drive for con­flict. She added, “The scale of rape of women and girls per­pe­trated by all armed groups in South Su­dan is ut­terly un­ac­cept­able and is frankly mind bog­gling.” She said aid work­ers de­scribed gang rape as so preva­lent that it has be­come “nor­mal.”

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, the United States and the rest of the world must find a way to con­front these atroc­i­ties and stop the down­ward spi­ral of South Su­dan.

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