This is the News in Brief from the United Nations:
In South Sudan, mothers teaching daughters ‘safer’ ways to survive rape
Sexual attacks in South Sudan are so common that mothers now teach their daughters how to be raped in such a way as to minimize the violence.
That’s according to Yasmin Sooka, chair of a UN Commission on Human Rights, who’s been speaking to the Human Rights Council in Geneva during its latest session.
“The Commission was outraged by the testimony of many South Sudanese women who said that the risk of rape is so high in going out of the Protection of Civilians sites to forage for food and collect wood, that they have had to teach their daughters how to respond to their rapists, when they are raped so as to minimize the violence.”
The development comes despite the signing of a revitalized peace accord six months ago which Ms. Sooka said had led to an “overall improvement” in peace and security – despite ongoing fighting in Yei state.
The rights expert also noted that thousands of youngsters had been recruited by commanders who promised them that they could loot villages and rape women and girls in lieu of payment.
Responding to the claims, South Sudan’s Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Paulino Wanawilla Unango, insisted that sexual offences were punishable in law.
Mr. Unango also said that there had been “no serious military engagement” between Government forces and any other armed group.
DR Congo: ‘New waves of violence’ likely, UN warns, unless State acts to prevent intercommunal reprisals
A “new wave of violence” could erupt in western Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the UN rights office warned on Tuesday, unless the Government acts to ease “tensions and resentment” between the two communities involved.
The development follows a UN probe in Yumbi territory, which found evidence of extended attacks carried out between 16 and 18 December 2018.
The UN rights investigation looked into reports that 890 had been killed and thousands displaced as a result of clashes between the Banunu and Batende communities.
According to the investigators, the violence was triggered by a dispute over the burial of a Banunu chief, reportedly on Batende land.
Here’s UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani:
“We’ve been able to verify fully that at least 535 men, women and children were killed and 111 others were injured in Yumbi town, Bongende village and Nkolo II village…The number of casualties is believed to be much higher, as the bodies of some who died are believed to have been thrown in the Congo River. It’s also not possible to confirm the number of people who are still missing as an estimated 19,000 people were displaced by the violence, 16,000 of whom crossed over into the Republic of Congo.”
The attacks were “strikingly similar” and characterized by their extreme violence and speed, leaving little time for people to escape”, Ms. Shamdasani said, noting that Batende villagers were equipped with “firearms, including hunting rifles, machetes, bows and arrows, and gasoline”.
2020 elections in Burundi could have major impact on human rights, says UN panel
And finally to Burundi, where dramatic political and humanitarian issues along with widespread impunity should remain a matter of concern for the international community, a UN Human Rights Council-appointed team of investigators said on Tuesday.
Addressing the Council in Geneva, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi said that the 2015 Government crisis remained unresolved – a reference to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision then to stand for a third term in office.
Chair of the panel, Doudou Diène, appealed for the Council to observe the upcoming elections “with the greatest vigilance”, warning that they could have a major impact on human rights in coming months:
“Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the existence of the rule of law state and political pluralism are essential for the organization of elections that are to be truly democratic, free and credible in 2020. The upcoming electoral campaign must be open for independent media, and it must unfold in a free and peaceful climate where candidates and voters do not fear that they may become victims of violence, intimidation or reprisals.”
According to the Commission, some 3.6 million people in Burundi - one-third of the population – require humanitarian assistance and more than one in two children are malnourished.
The panel’s rights experts also noted that despite widespread poverty, many households are forced to contribute to the 2020 election fund, or else be denied access to healthcare or school.
Speaking as the concerned country, Burundi’s representative dismissed the Commission’s findings as untruthful and defamatory, as well as its “apocalyptic” view of the 2020 elections.
Daniel Johnson, UN News.