Never again. This was the general statement uttered by Kofi Annan and other world leaders following the Rwandan genocide. Never again, except perhaps when it has already happened. Reports are trickling out of South Sudan that hundreds of people have been killed in the of Bentui. The acts are believed to have been fueled by ethnic violence.
As usual, the United Nations has responded with strong words, condemning the acts. The United States has also called the acts an abomination. Beyong that, however, world leaders have said or committed little. Perhaps worst of all, the United Nations was actively involved in the Bentui region and had camps and assets nearby.
Reportedly, a World Foode Programme center, which is a part of the United Nations, was attacked and numerous people were killed. The United Nations has managed to protect some 12,000 people at a nearby base and rescued some 500 people from a hospital. Still, the death toll is mounting.
Attacks likely carried out by rebels
South Sudan, which has been an independent country since July of 2011, is on the verge of splintering apart amid an ethnically fueled civil war. Rebels from the Nuer ethnic group have rebelled against the government over perceived slights and discrimination. Much of the voilence has been directed against President Salva Kiir’s ethnic group, the Dinka.
Led by Riek Machar, the rebels have mounted a wide spread resistance across South Sudan. Since fighting broke out last December, it is believed that thousands of people have been killed on both sides. At the moment, the rebels are claiming that they were not responsible for the attacks, instead blaming it on government troops.
The attacks appear to have occurred only after rebels overran the city and continued for up to two days after the rebels seized control of the town. The United Nations and South Sudanese government have been trying to fortify nearby towns in case the fighting spreads.
Government drops charges against rebel leaders
The South Sudanese government has dropped charges against four leaders linked to the rebels. This came as part of the demands laid out by the rebels and goes to show what a weak position the government currently finds itself in. Launch a massacre, and we’ll free your leaders.
Still, the cash strapped South Sudanese government, already reeling from political battles with Sudan to the north, has little resources to fight the rebels with. The government has urged the four released leaders to take part in peace talks and help the country work its way back to stability.