Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has urged State Governors and Chief Administrators to adopt stringent measures targeted at ending the activities of community-based militias.

This follows a joint report by UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office last Friday, indicating that nearly 600 people were killed in the militia-backed violence in 2022, in Greater Upper Nile region.

“The UN Agencies documented at least 884 civilian casualties of which 594 had been killed and 290 injured. In addition, 258 were abducted and 75 women and girls subjected to sexual violence.” it said.

“The fighting between armed groups that split from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) group, has engendered a humanitarian crisis that has displaced over 62,000 civilians and led to significant destruction of civilian property,” it added.

The statement said the “report follows 165 investigative missions conducted by UNMISS and the UN Human Rights Office, that have also led to the identification of at least 22 individuals who may bear the greatest responsibility for these violations and abuses.”

Yakani echoed the report, adding that early warning from CEPO also shows that there are at least 8 community-based militias currently active in the country.

In a press statement on Sunday, Yakani called on State Governors and Chief Administrators to set up mechanisms to stop the activities of these groups, noting that their actions also threaten peaceful conduct of elections.

“I hope the state governors and chief administrators will adopt concrete and practical actions for preventing and stopping the community-based militias because one day it will turn as a threat to the national security, national stability and at the same time also in face of elections they may pose a threat towards conduct of peaceful elections,” said Yakani.

He urged the states and administration areas leadership to prioritise disarmament to end operations of militias.

“I would like to call upon state governors and chief administrators to task the central defense and security system to respond in disarming and bringing an end to these community-based militia groups. Also the government needs to take its responsibility in providing adequate and genuine safety and protection to individual and communities,” stressed Yakani.