In a war spanning two years, there are bound to be a number of unintentional casualties who just get caught up in the cross fire, this unintentional losses can be seen as admittedly one of the most negative aspects of war.
The government of South Sudan has been implicated in one such happening as allegations have come forward that 50 people were killed when they were stuffed into a shipping container in baking heat. The allegation is made all the more serious because it was said to have occurred during a period of ceasefire. The metal containers are often used as makeshift prison cells, not so surprising, considering the length of time the country has been engaged in this war.
The incident which is said to have taken place in October in Unity State, South Sudan, was uncovered in a report by cease-fire monitors, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC). The report was submitted to the African Union (AU) summit by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and was made public on Sunday. The atrocity was named, “concerning the killing of civilians in Unity State””and was only one of several listed examples of cease-fire violations carried out by both sides of the conflict against the August peace deal. Other violations in the South Sudan ceasefire included rape, murder, capture and looting of UN river barges.
The report read “About 50 people suffocated in a container on about 22 October. The investigation was protracted. Attribution of responsibility: Government Forces”. No response was offered by the South Sudanese army who have previously rejected other accusations of that kind. The JMEC chief, Festus Mogae, a former Botswana President appointed to the role by regional bloc of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), referring to the efforts to force unity government explained that the progress had been stalled when President Salva Kiir had tripled the number of regional states, thereby subverting a critical pillar of the power sharing deal. The recent reports do not bode well for both President Kiir and rebel chief Riek Machar who just last month were fingered by a UN panel of experts to face sanctions for their different roles in the war.
Festus Mogae encouraged decisive action by the African Union in South Sudan stating, “Given the fragility of the security situation in South Sudan, the renewed risk of conflict, and continued insecurity affecting the humanitarian relief effort, emphatic, stern measures should be taken by the African Union… rhetoric alone can only do so much,”.