International Humanitarian Law Violated in Leer and Malakal


Press statement

South Sudan | 18 May 2015

Statement by Toby Lanzer, the Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan

Juba, 18 May 2015: “Military operations in Unity and Upper Nile states over the past three days in particular have again devastated countless lives. Eyewitness accounts report targeted rape and killing of civilians, including children. The offensive in Unity has left thousands of homes burnt and Leer hospital is again under threat of destruction. In Malakal, armed groups have engaged in combat next to the United Nations protection of civilians site and as a consequence, civilians trying to stay out of harm’s way have been injured.

The lack of respect for the sanctity of life, humanitarian infrastructure and the United Nations protection of civilians site constitute breaches of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).  IHL applies to all forces engaged in military activities and holds forces responsible for the safety of civilians and to respect humanitarian staff and facilities.

UN agencies and their partners are working to address the immense humanitarian consequences of the violence, which has resulted in more than 650,000 civilians being left without life-saving aid.

I call on all commanding officers to ensure that their combatants protect and respect civilians, including national and international aid workers and their property. In the coming days key humanitarian professionals plan on travelling to Leer and Malakal to assess the humanitarian situation, and I count on the full cooperation of all relevant parties to ensure access to both locations.”

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