The UN on Monday called on South Sudan to hold those military and political figures accountable who are supporting community-based militias in the Greater Jonglei region, leaving hundreds of people killed and kidnapped and dozens of women raped.

“Organized and heavily-armed community-based militias from the Murle, Dinka, and Nuer communities committed planned and coordinated attacks and targeted villages across Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) during the period between January and August 2020,” a new report jointly issued by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights revealed Monday.

Holding South Sudan’s government responsible for the attacks, the UN report confirmed that over 738 people were killed and 320 wounded, while at least 686 women and children were kidnapped, and 39 women were raped during the eight-month period.

The attacks also displaced tens of thousands of people. “Civilian property and humanitarian facilities were looted and/or destroyed, and at least 86,000 cattle (worth over $35 million) were stolen,” according to the report.

“Those key figures at both local and national levels, who deliberately fueled and exploited the localized tensions, should be held accountable,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet was quoted as saying in the report.

Bachelet stressed that “the risk that these community-based militias will reignite armed violence is too grave to ignore,” urging the South Sudanese government to “ensure that members of the security forces are prevented from supplying weapons from government stocks to these militias.”

The UN’s report also urged the South Sudanese government to investigate all the attacks and prosecute those responsible.

It stressed immediate steps to facilitate the release of abducted women and children.

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