JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Residents and aid workers say the United Nations has not registered the more than 11,000 people who have sheltered at its sites in South Sudan's capital since renewed fighting nearly a month ago, putting them at risk of rape as they go outside for food.
People cannot qualify for U.N. rations without the registration, which drives them to seek food outside the main U.N. camp. Witnesses have told The Associated Press that dozens of women and girls returning to the camp with food have been the target of rapes and gang rapes.
A fresh wave of South Sudanese took shelter at U.N. camps after fighting erupted in early July between opposing army factions in the capital, Juba.
The new arrivals haven't been registered at all, a community leader sheltering at the main U.N. camp, Zacharia Buok, said Wednesday.
U.N. officials have been concerned that registrations would draw even more people into the crowded camp, said a humanitarian official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Registration of the new arrivals has been planned, a U.N. official in charge of camp management, Derk Segaar, said.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission says it has documented 120 cases of rape and sexual violence against civilians throughout Juba since the latest fighting began.
The U.N. humanitarian chief, visiting Juba on Wednesday, said members of South Sudan's armed forces who are found guilty of rape should be given "very severe punishments."
Stephen O'Brien did not address concerns by witnesses, community leaders and aid workers that U.N. peacekeepers did not act to prevent rapes just outside the camp.
South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013 and left tens of thousands dead. A peace deal reached in August 2015 has been threatened regularly by fighting.