During its informal consultations on 21 March 2017, the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2206 (2015) concerning South Sudan was briefed by Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Ms. Zerrougui, who last briefed the Committee in March 2016, noted inter alia that the security situation in South Sudan continued to deteriorate, exacerbating an environment already conducive to grave violations against children and that children have been victims and witnesses of the most appalling violations. These violations included large-scale child recruitment and use, the targeting of civilians (including children) on the basis of ethnic identity by means of killing, abduction, unlawful deprivation of liberty, rape, sexual violence, burning of villages and looting, as well as the denial of humanitarian access. Ms. Zerrougui added that children wearing military or police uniforms, manning checkpoints, guarding military facilities and carrying heavy weapons were spotted throughout the country. Ms. Zerrougui also stressed that 60 per cent of the 1.6 million South Sudanese refugees are children and that those who stayed in South Sudan lived in deep fear. In the context of the recently-declared famine in Unity State, Ms. Zerrougui underscored that over 1 million children across South Sudan were estimated to be acutely malnourished and over a quarter of a million children severely malnourished. Ms. Zerrougui explained that if those responsible did not face consequences for their actions, this was a green light to continue the barbarity. Ms. Zerrougui reminded the Committee that sanctions were a tool at their disposal.
Ms. Bangura agreed with Ms. Zerrougui that after more than three years of conflict, the situation in South Sudan remained dire, compounded by impunity. Ms. Bangura noted inter alia that there has been no significant change to the situation that she described in her last briefing to the Committee in September 2016, namely patterns of rape, gang rape and other forms of sexual violence continued to be committed in a climate of impunity. Ms. Bangura explained that a culture of denial persisted in South Sudan, and for the parties to protect women and girls from acts of sexual violence, they must exercise ownership, responsibility and leadership. Ms. Bangura underlined that the Committee had an important role to play in following through on the threat of targeted sanctions against perpetrators of sexual-violence crimes. While highlighting the need for accountability, more assistance to victims and improved access for the service providers, she underscored that her Office, in collaboration with UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan), will continue to support the Government of South Sudan to implement commitments it has made to prevent and respond to conflict-related sexual violence.