Rebels Release UN Hostages in South Sudan
Thirteen United Nations workers have been released, a week after they were abducted by South Sudan rebels, the UN has announced.
A total of 31 UN peacekeeping members were kidnapped by rebels last week, but the majority were soon released. The group of thirteen – all South Sudanese nationals – were held for a full week, until Sunday.
Rebels accused of war crime
UN chief in South Sudan Ellen Margrethe Loj had warned that the kidnap of UN peacekeepers could constitute a war crime on the part of rebel forces in the country. No further statement has been given on her comments, although the UN chief said she was “relieved by the safe release of all UN personnel.”
The UN last week had said that only 12 peacekeepers were still being held as hostages, however it announced on Sunday that 13 had in fact been released.
Ongoing crisis in South Sudan
South Sudan has been immersed in civil war since December 2013, following accusations of an attempted coup against the government. A recent report contradicted President Salva Kiir’s accounts of an attempted coup, which has been his justification for military action.
The report also cited severe cases of gross human rights violations – including gang rape and forced cannibalism. International bodies have urged opposing parties to find a solution to the conflict, but violence continues to flourish.
Sanctions against key members from both sides have done little to discourage fighting, but the nation has been warned that further action could soon follow. Another concern for international and domestic bodies is the risk of severe famine if the conflict isn’t brought to an end soon.