UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani [official profile] on Friday encouraged [press release] the UN and the international community to address the safety and security of South Sudan's internally displaced persons. The number of internally displaced persons in South Sudan [JURIST backgrounder] has reached 640,000 since mid-December, and congestion at UN bases is creating immediate risks for the more than 80,000 seeking refuge at the eight UN bases. Beyani said the need to protect displaced civilians from attacks must be prioritized as part of a comprehensive strategy on internal displacement. UN and humanitarian partners have delivered aid to 300,000 in the country, including vaccinations for children, but senior UN officials stressed [UN News Centre report] the primary responsibility for protection of civilians rests with the government of South Sudan President Salva Kiir [BBC profile].
South Sudan has repeatedly been criticized for its human rights abuses since becoming an independent nation, and the current domestic conflict is characterized by ethnic and sectarian violence. JURIST guest columnist David Pimentel argues [JURIST op-ed] that South Sudan's rule of law remains a stumbling block for the country's development. Last month Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] urged an investigation [JURIST report] into targeted attacks on civilians based on ethnicity. At the end of 2013 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] issued a statement [text] commending mediation efforts [JURIST reports] in South Sudan, which led to a ceasefire, but violence persists.