Visiting Malakal, UN Special Envoy for Sexual Violence in Conflict urges reparations for victims and end to impunity
A delegation led by United Nations Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten, has visited the town of Malakal, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region.
“I work in many countries to see how to prevent sexual violence, how to support victims of sexual violence and how to ensure that survivors have justice and perpetrators are held responsible,” said Ms. Patten in discussions with community leaders from the town’s UN protection of civilians’ site.
Ms. Patten is part of a high-level delegation of women from the UN and the African Union visiting the war-torn country.
On her visit to Malakal, she was accompanied by Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mr. Said Djinnit, and the UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Alain Noudehou.
Besides meeting with community leaders from the internally displaced persons’ protection site, the delegation met with UN and humanitarian staff working in Malakal, as well as the state governor and his cabinet.
The community leaders used the opportunity to request the UN envoy’s intervention on demilitarization of towns in the region to enable them to feel safe enough to return to their homes.
“We in the PoC [Protection of Civilians] site have benefitted from a lot of training on conflict-related sexual violence,” said Rachel Mayik. “But our counterparts in town have also requested to be included so that we can learn and grow together,” she added, as she boldly spoke on behalf of fellow women living in Malakal.
Ms. Patten’s visit is timely as it serves to reinvigorate the commitments made by the parties to the country’s conflict to address conflict-related sexual violence, and also to ensure the implementation of preventive measures.
A recent communique, signed by both President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Dr. Riek Machar seeks to ensure that a series of actions are taken to address this particular scourge across the country.
“The peace agreement should include justice and accountability, reversing the culture of impunity and also ensuring reparations for victims,” said Ms. Patten.
“Most importantly it should ensure that crimes of sexual violence are not amnestied,” added the UN Under-Secretary-General, who will be briefing the Security Council in July on her mandate as it relates to South Sudan.