South Sudan

Fresh UN Report Exposes Mass Murders In Bentui, Bor

Devastating aftermath of the April 2014, attack in Bentui

President Yoweri Museveni has vowed not to tolerate any corruption cases in the looming Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project.

The president told a committee of parliament that the country had no luxury of waiting for protracted investigations into the project and that other regional partners would not keep waiting for Uganda.

“We have the human capacity to work on the railway project. We need technical collaboration to implement it. Uganda has Engineers from the Engineering Brigade, information pills who are available to roll out the railway project. We need this railway running from Kenya through Uganda to South Sudan and to Rwanda, ” he said.

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He was meeting with a delegation of the Special Parliamentary Committee on the Standard Gauge Railway, at State House in Entebbe.

The committee was set up in November last year by Speaker of Parliament Hon Rebecca Kadaga, to investigate issues surrounding the procurement process of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

This followed a motion in parliament calling for a Select Committee to investigate, among others, the actions of the Minister of State for Works and all other officials involved in the procurement of all companies involved in the project.

MPs argue the project’s cost was recently raised from $8bn to $11bn under mysterious circumstances and that the procurement process leading to the awarding of the contract to Chinese firm China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) was done in secrecy after edging out China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The President Museveni used the Thursday meeting to expound on a number of issues pertaining to the progress of the project.

He said the China Harbours and Engineering Company had secured the railway project contract which would be implemented at a width of 1.435 meters.

Museveni added that Government had done research in railway construction and made comparisons with other countries before deciding on the way forward.

He observed that Uganda has got similar land terrain to a number of countries such as India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Malaysia and that data acquired from such places can be used to gauge accuracy of construction costs.

He revealed that divulgence of any information pertaining to allegations of corruption during the procurement process would not be let out until the prosecution process by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) is completed.

He said that he had revealed information to the members of the Special Parliamentary Committee on the Standard Gauge Railway so that it would be used appropriately.

The Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Friday issued a report saying there are reasonable grounds to believe that at least 353 civilians were murdered and another 250 wounded in attacks in the capitals of Unity state and Jonglei state between 15 April and 17 April last year.

The body said having collected and analyzed physical evidence and interviewed 142 sources, page the report found that the attacks in the towns of Bentiu and Bor involved the deliberate targeting of victims on the basis of their ethnicity, medications nationality or perceived support for one of the parties to the conflict, a press statement from the Mission said.

“In both Bentiu and Bor, attacks took place against protected objects – a hospital, a mosque, and a United Nations base – which may amount to war crimes,” said the report.

“Although the conflict has been marked throughout by gross abuses and violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law, these two events seemed to represent the nadir of the conflict.”

The worst attack in Bentiu, the capital of oil richest Unity State took place after opposition forces retook control of the town from Government troops.

The report says that at least 287 civilians – mainly Sudanese traders and their families who were targeted on the basis of their Darfuri origins – were killed at a mosque before a further 19 civilians were killed at the Bentiu Civil Hospital.

Two days later, an UNMISS civilian protection site outside the Jonglei state capital of Bor was attacked by a mob of armed men demanding the expulsion of all youths of Nuer ethnicity.

After forcibly entering the protection site, the mob went on a rampage of killing, looting and abductions of internally displaced persons (IDPs), killing at least 47 people whose names appear in report.

“UNMISS strongly condemns the continued killing and displacement of civilians on the basis of their ethnic identity nearly nine months after the events of April 2014,” said Ellen Margrethe Løj, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan.

“This risks an even greater polarization of the country along ethnic lines with potentially serious repercussions for the state of human rights and the prospects for reconciliation.”

Nearly nine months after the attacks took place, no perpetrator has been held accountable by either the Government of the Republic of South Sudan or the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army In Opposition, and the report says that few accountability measures have been taken in response to the incidents.

The Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to the UNMISS report during a briefing in Geneva today, adding his voice to those concerned by the response to the attacks.

“Accountability is a big issue. There has been no accountability for the mass atrocities, human rights violations and abuses that have caused the death of tens of thousands of people in South Sudan,” said Robert Colville.



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