Nairobi, Kenya — A shocking report out of the AP on Monday, details a horrific attack that unfolded in Nairobi last month. For four hours, multiple female aid workers were beaten, shot, and savagely raped — all while U.N. peacekeeping troops and the U.S. Embassy sat back and did nothing.
“Either you have sex with me, or we make every man here rape you and then we shoot you in the head,” a soldier said, according to one of the female aid workers. By the end of the hours-long attack, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, had been raped by 15 South Sudanese soldiers.
The ones who could have stopped it — did nothing.
According to the report in the AP, on July 11, South Sudanese troops, fresh from winning a battle in the capital, Juba, over opposition forces, went on a nearly four-hour rampage through a residential compound popular with foreigners, in one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in South Sudan’s three-year civil war. They shot dead a local journalist while forcing the foreigners to watch, raped several foreign women, singled out Americans, beat and robbed people and carried out mock executions, several witnesses told The Associated Press.
When the troops arrived, the aid workers began calling for help to the U.N. Peacekeepers and the U.S. Embassy. They were literally right next door, less than a mile away. The desperate calls for help continued throughout the attack. However, they fell on deaf ears.
The AP interviewed eight of the survivors from the attack on the Terrain hotel complex who wished to remain anonymous for their safety as their organizations are still operating in South Sudan. The survivors described, in gory detail, how they were repeatedly raped, beaten, and shot.
According to a report by the Terrain’s Owner, at least five women were raped, while torture, mock executions, beatings and looting took place. An unknown number of South Sudanese women were also assaulted.
As the AP reports,
The accounts highlight, in raw detail, the failure of the U.N. peacekeeping force to uphold its core mandate of protecting civilians, notably those just a few minutes’ drive away. The Associated Press previously reported that U.N. peacekeepers in Juba did not stop the rapes of local women by soldiers outside the U.N.’s main camp last month.
The attack comes on the heels of a recently passed U.S. resolution in the U.N. to send more peacekeeping troops to protect civilians.
This horrifying attack brings into question the very existence of the U.N.’s ostensible peacekeeping mission.
An armed response from the peacekeeping troops next door would have undoubtedly served to prevent, or, at least, lessen the severity of the situation. Instead, the U.N. and the U.S. troops at the Embassy sat back and watched the violence unfold.
“You tell your embassy how we treated you,” one of the soldiers said during the attack.
“We kill you! We kill you!” the soldiers shouted, according to a Western woman in the bathroom. “They would shoot up at the ceiling and say, ‘Do you want to die?’ and we had to answer ‘No!'”
The soldiers then pulled people out one by one. One woman said she was sexually assaulted by multiple men. Another Western woman said soldiers beat her with fists and threatened her with their guns when she tried to resist. She said five men raped her, according to the AP.
“All of us were contacting whoever we could contact. The U.N., the U.S. embassy, contacting the specific battalions in the U.N., contacting specific departments,” said the woman raped by 15 men.
According to the report:
A member of the U.N.’s Joint Operations Center in Juba first received word of the attack at 3:37 p.m., minutes after the breach of the compound, according to an internal timeline compiled by a member of the operations center and seen by AP.
Eight minutes later another message was sent to a different member of the operations center from a person inside Terrain saying that people were hiding there. At 4:22 p.m., that member received another message urging help.
Five minutes after that, the U.N. mission’s Department of Safety and Security and its military command wing were alerted. At 4:33 p.m., a Quick Reaction Force, meant to intervene in emergencies, was informed. One minute later, the timeline notes the last contact on Monday from someone trapped inside Terrain.
For the next hour and a half the timeline is blank. At 6:52, shortly before sunset, the timeline states that “DSS would not send a team.”
An American man, who was able to escape the attack to make it to the U.N. compound, detailed the account of their inaction.
“Everyone refused to go. Ethiopia, China, and Nepal. All refused to go,” he said.
Eventually, South Sudanese forces went in and were able to rescue all but three Western women and 16 Terrain staff.
The U.N. planned to send in a patrol the next morning. However, it “was cancelled due to priority.” A private security firm went in instead and rescued the remaining survivors.
“The peacekeepers did not venture out of the bases to protect civilians under imminent threat,” Human Rights Watch said Monday in a report on abuses throughout Juba.
When the AP attempted to request a comment from the U.S. Embassy on their lack of response to the repeated requests for help, they did not respond.
Before the aid workers were sent to the area, they were told repeatedly that the hundreds of peacekeeping troops right next door would not let anything happen to them — noting that because they were foreigners and had the backing of the U.N., they would not be targeted.
One of the women who had been repeatedly gang raped during the attack noted how she was told the same thing. “This sentence, ‘We are not targeted,’ I heard half an hour before they assaulted us,” she said.