Concerns about rising sexual violence and gender-based violence in Yei expressed during UNMISS visit

Peace South Sudan UNMISS UN peacekeeping peacekeepers elections sexual gender based violence Yei HoFO

The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s Juba Field Office, Njoki Rahab Kinyanjui, discusses the need for further efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence during a visit to the Yei One Stop Centre for survivors in Central Equatoria. Photo by Taban Geofrey Koma Alfred/UNMISS.

21 Jun 2024

Concerns about rising sexual violence and gender-based violence in Yei expressed during UNMISS visit

Taban Geofrey Koma Alfred

CENTRAL EQUATORIA - Concerns have been raised by advocates for survivors about an alarming increase in sexual and gender-based violence in Yei and the surrounding region of Central Equatoria during a visit by officials serving with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The Yei One-Stop Shop Centre, which provides support services to survivors of sexual violence, briefed UNMISS representatives about the increase in cases and the need for increased protection and assistance for those affected.

"Many survivors do not report these crimes due to fear, stigma, lack of trust, and difficulties in reaching the facilities," said Ngongi Peter, who is in charge of clinical management of rape victims at the Yei One Stop Centre.

"We need to create a safe and supportive environment for survivors to come forward and access justice."

UNMISS Human Rights Officer Arthur Beingana also noted that, while there had been a decrease in conflict-related sexual violence, gender-based sexual violence cases remain a significant challenge.

“It is crucial that we collaborate to address this issue and ensure that those responsible are held accountable," he said.

“A comprehensive approach involving communities, local authorities, and international organizations is crucial. UNMISS will continue to work with all stakeholders to address these issues so that justice can prevail.”

The establishment of a Police Community Relations Committee and Watch Group has strengthened community engagement and reporting mechanisms, however, much more is needed to end the scourge of sexual violence.

"We need to break down cultural barriers and encourage survivors to report these crimes," said Chief Superintendent Jose Valente Pimpao, the team leader of UN Police in Yei.

Furthermore, the UNMISS Head of the Juba Field Office, Njoki Rahab Kinyanjui reinforced the need for a victim-centered approach to ensure women are safe and can live their lives free from the threat of violence.

“It is imperative that we reaffirm our commitment to prevent and end sexual gender-based violence in Yei and across South Sudan. We cannot afford to fail those who have suffered greatly, specifically women and girls,” she said.