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article imageUN Human Rights experts — South Sudan on 'brink of catastrophe'

By Karen Graham     Dec 14, 2016 in World
The head of the UN human rights commission said on Wednesday that world powers can stop a "Rwanda-like" genocide in South Sudan if a military force is sent in as a protection force to stop the atrocities.
South Sudan is "on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war which could destabilize the entire region," Yasmin Sooka, the head of a team of UN human rights investigators told the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday.
The meeting was held in Berlin, Germany at the request of 40 nations, led by the United States. Delegates were given a detailed report from the three UN experts on what they had found after a 10-day trip to the country in late November, reports CTV News.
Sooka described a country on the brink of catastrophe, where tens-of-thousands have been killed, thousands of women have been raped, including children as young as two-years-old. Sooka also said the economy has been crushed, with the inflation rate over 800 percent in October.
She said gang-rape was happening on an "epic scale," citing cases where women were being raped at a UN site in the capital Juba, within sight of UN peacekeepers, reports Reuters-UK.
The report also stressed that there was every indication that a "process of ethnic cleansing" has now started in earnest across the country. Sooka added that with the start of the dry season, fighting was expected to get a lot worse.
Africa's youngest country
South Sudan didn't gain its independence until 2011, and that was only after a 22-year-long civil war in Sudan. And just when the world thought South Sudan was going to move forward with their independence, a long-running feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar deteriorated into civil war in 2013.
President Kiir has staunchly denied claims of any ethnic cleansing going on, while South Sudan's ambassador, Kuol Alor Kuol Arop, said at the council meeting today his country saw no need for the special session to discuss his country.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, urged the council to call on South Sudan's leaders to "refrain from violence and ethnic hatred."
1994 Rwanda-like genocide feared
There is the very real fear that what the world is seeing is the beginning of an ethnic cleansing to rival the 1994 Rwandan genocide. VOX reminds us that around 800,000 people were slaughtered in a 100-day period while the world sat back and watched.
Former President, Bill Clinton has called the failure to intervene in Rwanda one of his biggest regrets. "I do feel a lifetime responsibility," he told ABC in 2008, while on a trip to the country. "I feel like a lot of people … had something to do with it."
More about south sudan, Civil War, africa's newest country, destabilize entire region, Rwandalike genocide
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