South Sudan’s president on Thursday denied allegations by the United Nations that ethnic cleansing in the country’s conflict is so bad that the stage is set for genocide.
“There’s no such thing in South Sudan. There’s no ethnic cleansing,” President Salva Kiir told Reuters in the South African city of Johannesburg. Security guards prevented further questions.
A UN commission on human rights in South Sudan has said a steady process of ethnic cleansing is under way in the country, involving massacres, starvation, gang rape and the destruction of villages.
On Wednesday, three commission members who had traveled around South Sudan for 10 days said they observed deepening divisions in a country with 64 ethnic groups.
“There is already a steady process of ethnic cleansing under way in several areas of South Sudan using starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages,” commission chairwoman Yasmin Sooka told a press conference.
“The stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda and the international community is under an obligation to prevent it,” he added.
The alleged ethnic cleansing comes after almost three years of fighting between government forces, rebel troops and allied militias. A political split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013.