The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says the number of civilians harmed across South Sudan in 2022 has slightly increased, despite a 27 percent decrease in the overall number of documented violent incidents compared to the previous year. On Friday, the mission's Human Rights Division released its annual report on violence affecting civilians, documenting 3,469 civilian victims affected mostly by killing, injury, abduction, and conflict-related sexual violence.
The report, covering the period from January to December 2022, shows a two percent increase in the number of civilians harmed across South Sudan in 2022 (3,414 in 2021) while the overall number of documented violent incidents compared to the previous year decreased by more than a quarter. There were 714 incidents in 2022, compared to 982 in 2021.
The UN mission reports that the number of victims of violent incidents attributed to the parties to the conflict, increased by 58 per cent from 1,057 in 2021 to 1,674 in 2022. As for the violent incidents attributed to intercommunal violence (community-based militias or civil-defense groups), the number of victims decreased by 28 per cent from 2,279 to 1,642 in comparison to 2021.
According to UNMISS, 2022 was marked by three distinct surges of violence: between April and May, in southern Unity State; between July and September, in Warrap State; and between August and December, in the Greater Upper Nile region.
Geographically, 42 percent of South Sudanese who suffered from violent conflict were located in Upper Nile and Warrap states, while Jonglei, Unity, Eastern Equatoria and Central Equatoria states collectively accounted for approximately 50 percent of victims.
UNMISS notes that capacity constraints, access restrictions, among other challenges hindered its ability to verify and document all incidents, which may have resulted in the underreporting of the number of incidents and victims.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan is a peacekeeping mission established by the United Nations Security Council in 2011 to support the Government of South Sudan in consolidating peace and security. The mission has a mandate to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights abuses, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and assist in the implementation of the peace agreement signed in 2018.
South Sudan is in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis driven by years of brutal civil war. With 4.5 million people forcibly displaced, South Sudan has the highest proportion - 40 percent - of its population displaced of any country in Africa.
More than 2.3 million people have fled to neighboring countries while 2,2 million people are internally displaced. Continued insecurity across several regions is still forcing thousands of civilians to flee their homes. South Sudan continues to be the most violent context for aid workers, followed by Afghanistan and Syria.
The country is also facing a major hunger crisis due to armed conflict, localized violence, dramatic flooding, worsening food insecurity and economic destabilization. Currently some 6.6 million people - 57% of South Sudan’s population - are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity.
The United Nations estimates that 9.4 million people will require humanitarian assistance in 2023, an increase of half a million people compared to 2022.
Full text: Annual Brief on Violence Affecting Civilian, January to December 2022, Human Rights Division, United Nations Mission in South Sudan, released March 17, 2023