South Sudan: New interactive conflict map highlights urgent need to protect civilians

A new interactive map launched by Amnesty International today uses the powerful voices of eyewitnesses and civilians to trace the South Sudan conflict from its origins in Juba in December 2013 up to the present.

The map also links to a petition calling on President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Dr Riek Machar to ensure their forces protect civilians and guarantee humanitarian access. 

“This interactive map tells the story of the conflict through the voices of civilians that Amnesty International staff met while recently on mission in South Sudan,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director at Amnesty International.

“These compelling stories are just a handful from a conflict that has forced more than a million people to flee their homes and left the country on the brink of famine. Civilians are bearing the brunt of atrocities being perpetrated by warring factions on all sides. Urgent action is needed to stem the violence.”

The interactive map includes testimonies from Amnesty International’s report, Nowhere Safe: Attacks on Civilians in South Sudan. The map documents targeted killings of civilians, sexual violence, destruction of homes and civilian property, and attacks on churches and hospitals sheltering civilians by both government and opposition forces. Several major towns have been largely destroyed and abandoned and whole villages have been razed. 

The map and petition are launching today as South Sudan commemorates the 31st anniversary of the establishment of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

The SPLA fought against Sudanese government forces during the 1983-2005 Sudan civil war and after independence became the national army. Since then it has become fragmented and many of its soldiers are have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the ongoing conflict. 

Amnesty International is calling on President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Dr Riek Machar to publicly condemn the actions of their forces and call on them to immediately halt attacks against civilians.

“The leadership on both sides must take a stand by calling on their forces to immediately cease all unlawful killings, acts of sexual violence and any other attacks on civilians. Combatants responsible for such violations must be removed from the ranks of the armed forces and made aware that they will be held accountable,” said Michelle Kagari. 

On 23 January 2014, negotiators representing both parties to the conflict signed a cessation of hostilities agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was immediately violated by both sides. Warring parties recommitted to cease hostilities on 5 May and 9 May, but they have exchanged allegations of continued attacks.  

The African Union Commission of Inquiry mandated to document human rights violations and make recommendations on accountability, reconciliation and healing has recommended the establishment of a hybrid court to provide accountability for crimes committed during the conflict.