From: AFP, SEP/26/2018, SSN;
South Sudan’s civil war has caused the deaths of at least 382,900 people — far higher than previous estimates and more than the conflict in Syria, according to a new study.
The statistical research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine university was published Tuesday after being commissioned by the US Institute for Peace in partnership with the US State Department.
Researchers measured both the number of deaths that were a direct result of the violence as well as deaths caused by the increased risk of disease and reduced access to healthcare.
Previous estimates have put the toll in the tens of thousands.
The new figure is comparable to Syria, where more than 360,000 are estimated to have died since the conflict began in 2011.
The new figure is comparable to Syria, where more than 360,000 are estimated to have died since 2011
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a much-anticipated peace deal this month
South Sudan voted to leave its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011, becoming the world’s youngest country
The UK study found that the deaths from the civil war in South Sudan, which started in December 2013, were concentrated in the northeast and southern regions of the country.
Researchers analysed mortality data, combining it with media reports and some 227 surveys carried out by humanitarian agencies to single out conflict-related deaths.
They said their findings “indicate that the humanitarian response in South Sudan must be strengthened, and that all parties should seek urgent conflict resolution”.
Their innovative statistical approach “has the potential to support those involved in humanitarian response and policy to make real-time decisions” in other conflicts, the researchers said.
A rights group on Wednesday accused the government of South Sudan and its allied militias of carrying out “war crimes” of “staggering brutality” during an offensive earlier this year.
Amnesty International’s report, based on research following a government offensive on Leer and Mayendit counties in the northern Unity State between April and June, catalogued the testimonies of around 100 civilians who escaped the attacks.
“The offensive was characterised by staggering brutality, with civilians deliberately shot dead, burnt alive, hanged in trees and run over with armoured vehicles,” Amnesty said.
The group also documented “systematic sexual violence”, rape and gang-rape as well as abductions of women and girls, and the deliberate killing of young boys and male infants.
The killings echo the type of brutality meted out to civilians that has characterized South Sudan’s war since the start.
Amnesty said the latest offensive began in April and continued until early July, “a week after the latest ceasefire was brokered on 27 June”.
That ceasefire paved the way for the signing last week of another peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar aimed at ending the vicious five-year-old civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people, pushed millions to the brink of starvation and scattered refugees across East Africa.
Days of fighting:
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar signed a much-anticipated peace deal this month, the latest attempt to end a war that has torn the world’s newest nation apart.
Since the civil war — which broke out after President Kiir claimed Dr Machar was plotting a coup — the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) regional bloc, chaired by Ethiopia, has taken the lead on peace negotiations, to little effect.
The previous peace pact collapsed in July 2016 during days of fighting in the capital Juba that forced Dr Machar to flee for his life.
After decades of civil war, South Sudan voted to leave its northern neighbour Sudan in 2011, becoming the world’s youngest country.
The split deprived Sudan of most of its oil reserves, and production was disrupted by the outbreak of war in South Sudan just two years after independence. END