Media Briefing by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on the situation in South Sudan

11 November 2016

(Juba, 11 November 2016) The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed his deep concern at the threat to the populations of South Sudan on the escalation of ethnic tensions that have the potential to lead to genocide. Mr. Dieng undertook a mission to South Sudan to “better understand the landscape of ethnically-fueled violence – including hate speech and incitement to violence – and to provide assistance, where requested.”

“I am dismayed to report that what I have seen and heard here has confirmed my concerns that there is a strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines, with the potential for genocide. I do not say that lightly. In place of the development of a South Sudanese national identity, I have seen that there is extreme polarization between some tribal groups, which has increased in certain places since the outbreak of violence in July this year.”

“Inflammatory rhetoric, stereotyping and name-calling have been accompanied by targeted killings and rape of members of particular ethnic groups, and by violent attacks against individuals or communities on the basis of their perceived political affiliation. The media, including social media, are being used to spread hatred and encourage ethnic polarization, and letters threatening specific groups have surfaced in the last month. I am particularly concerned by the involvement of the youth of this country in this dangerous spread of hatred and hostility, as they are particularly susceptible to divisions within society.”

Mr. Dieng called on the international community, regional actors as well as the government and people of South Sudan to uphold their responsibility to protect all civilians irrespective of their ethnic background. “As I leave Juba, I will repeat what I said two years ago: South Sudanese, your leaders, the regional and the international community, I beseech you to take immediate measures to end the violence and uphold our collective responsibility to protect the populations of South Sudan from atrocity crimes. Ethnicity or political affiliation should not be used as a reason to incite violence or demonize and exclude any community or section of the population. We must all put strive for peace in South Sudan.”

Office of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect


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