53 Brentwood Blog

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The fighting has often slid into horror and depravity over the past 22 months. On Wednesday, a long-awaited report from the African Union (AU) laid out the atrocities that have accompanied the conflict, from rape and murder to the mutilation of dead bodies, forced cannibalism and the existence of mass graves.

“The commission found cases of sexual and gender-based violence committed by both parties against women,” said the report. “It also documented extreme cruelty exercised through the mutilation of bodies, burning of bodies, draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh.”

Ettie Higgins, Unicef’s deputy representative to South Sudan, has worked in Darfur, Somalia, Central African Republic and Syria. But she has never seen a humanitarian emergency as fast-moving or as unpredictable as that of South Sudan.

“People are extremely malnourished,” she says. “We’re seeing massively high rates of malnutrition among mothers who have been feeding everything to their children, including the tubers of waterlilies. The mothers are arriving at [the Bentiu protection of civilians camp in the northern Unity State] and literally collapsing at the gate. That is something – that level of human suffering and desperation – that I have never seen anywhere else.