A recent report by the UN gave horrific accounts of civilian killings and a rise in the number of government soldiers in uniform raping and gang raping women and girls who have taken refuge in UN protection of civilian sites.
According to the world body, about120 cases of sexual violence in South Sudan have been documented in the last two weeks.
“Those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian law – including those who order or incite violence, or encourage or contribute to the commission of crimes – will be held accountable,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner.
Washington reminded all parties that the peace agreement provides that the Hybrid Court for South Sudan will have jurisdiction over violations of international law committed during the transitional period, including those committed during the ongoing violence.
The United States also warned those taking actions threatening the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan, and those responsible for attacks on civilians or United Nations premises, saying they may be subjected to sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 2206 (2015).
The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union issued similar concerns on the matter.
Meanwhile, the US says the ‘short-sighted’ actions of South Sudan’s leaders in recent weeks have exacerbated an already intolerable humanitarian crisis as large portions of the country are facing emergency levels of food insecurity.