Hopes of a return to peace in South Sudan are quickly fading away following fears of more violence.
The UN’s special envoy on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng has said he feared an escalation in the violence in South Sudan following what he said was the extreme polarization of the people along ethnic lines.
“I am dismayed to report that what I have seen, what I have heard has confirmed my concerns that there is a strong risk of violence escalating along ethics lines with the potential of genocide. I do not say that lightly. In place of development of a South Sudanese national identity, I have seen that there is extreme polarization among some tribal groups.”
Fighting between forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and his former deputy Reik Machar, who is currently in exile, in July, is said to have divided South Sudanese and led to attacks on individuals and communities based on their perceived political affiliation.
“Stereotyping and name-calling have been accompanied by targeted killings and rapes of members of particular ethnic groups, by violent attacks against individuals of communities on the basis of their perceived political affiliations. The media including, social media, are being used to spread hatred and encourage ethnic polarization,” Dieng said.
He added that “there is renewed violence on a daily basis. And any hope of reconciliation seems to be elusive.”
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have died since the 2013 civil war with more than 2.5 million others displaced by the fighting.
And despite a peace agreement signed in August 2015, peace is yet to return to South Sudan, the world’s newest country.