- Mariana Goetz
UN Special Representative meets National Survivors Network in Juba
Updated: Mar 13
Ms. Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict made a country visit to South Sudan from 18-21 October 2022, where sexual violence is widespread with devastating impacts, but unfortunately still tolerated by leadership. The Special Representative was in South Sudan to assess the implementation of the Joint Communiqué to end conflict related sexual violence (CRSV) in South Sudan and the Strategy on Joint Action to ending sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) in conflict by 2021-3.
The Centre for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice (CIGPJ) organised a meeting for survivors with support from the Human Rights Division of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Rights for Peace, enabling survivor representatives of the newly established South Sudan National Survivor Network (NSN) to share their views about the situation with Ms Patten.
The NSN was represented by members from Juba town, Juba Protection of Civilians Camp (POC), Bor (Jonglei State) and Yei (Central Equatoria State). A total of 12 survivor advocates directly engaged with the UN Secretary Generals' Special Representative on the ongoing violence and increasing rape cases, the practical daily challenges they face and how her office can assist them. The Meeting was held at the UNMISS compound in Tongpiny and moderated by MS. Sheila Beedwantee, Senior women’s protection advisor at UNMISS, and Jackline Nasiwa the executive director of CIGPJ.
Madam Pramila recalled that it has been 5 years since her last visit to South Sudan where she and president H.E Salva Kiir reviewed the Communiqué on ending CRSV. She welcomed the survivors' views on the state of CRSV and concrete challenges in South Sudan, which included, but where not limited to:
Under-reporting of SGBV and CRSV as a result of fear of reprisals from perpetrators and security agents;
Overwhelming stigma, including untold discrimination and abuse against children born of rape;
Lack of protection and insecurity in the camps preventing them from carrying out their daily tasks, such as collecting fire wood;
Inadequate medical care, lack of psycho-social support;
Lack of basic necessities and deplorable living conditions coupled with insecurity in the camps;
Ongoing inter-communal violence;
Lack of legal aid/representation as well as access to justice, economic hardships and education for their children;
Floods and displacement in Bor and Bentiu were also highlighted.
The Network members also talked about the vulnerability of survivors with disabilities and how often they are forgotten and sidelined from all processes. The continuous nature of sexual violence is exacerbated by lack of proper security measures further exposing survivors to assault from both civilians and security personnel.
The NSN handed over their statement to Madam Patten through one survivor, who then read out the following key recommendations:
Provision of medical attention and psychological support;
Free education for children born out of rape and girls and boys survivors, survivor centres for children born out of rape (CRSV) and the NSN at national and state level;
Awareness raising of and implementing the Joint Action Plan on ending SGBV by 2021-3 such that the perpetrators are held accountable;
Implementing Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) and streamlining the military command to one, civilian controlled structure;
Reparations for survivors of CRSV to be included in Commission for Truth Reconciliation and Healing’s mandate (CTRH), as well as interim reparations.
They also called for learning and exchange with regional and international survivor networks.
The Special Representative also shared her interest on the issue of children born of rape since the survivors were bold enough to share their experiences. She informed the forum of her upcoming high-level engagements in London and USA where the issues of children born out rape are a top priority on the agenda. In her next briefing to the UN Security Council, Ms Patten said she will share the survivors' statement and highlight their challenges and recommendations. She also promised to raise the increasing cases of rape in her meeting with the President of the Republic especially on inaction to prevent the CSRV and hold perpetrators to account.
Survivors' participation in this event was co-organised by the Centre for Inclusive Governance Peace and Justice and Rights for Peace, and was funded by the Global Survivors Fund.