UN experts: South Sudan beset by 'alarming' sexual violence

UN experts: South Sudan beset by 'alarming' sexual violence
In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018, a South Sudan armed opposition commander Ashab Khamis, far-left, and a government army Gen. Keer Kiir Keer, far-right, attend high level talks where both sides exchanged accusations of violating the peace agreement, in Wau, South Sudan. The Associated Press witnessed the first meeting between the Wau region leaders of South Sudan's army and armed opposition since a groundbreaking peace deal, and the country's peace rests on whether the opposing sides can put a vicious past behind. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts says South Sudan is beset by “alarming levels” of sexual and gender-based violence and a desperate humanitarian situation including severe food shortages as it attempts to implement the latest peace agreement in a climate of “deep distrust.”

The experts say in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Thursday that there’s “profound” distrust among almost all signatories to the September peace deal. And the world’s newest nation also must deal with the fragmentation of armed groups “and grave human rights abuses, including against children.”

But they say the most important thing is having a peace agreement that improves the lives of the civilians. The experts say many told them of “profound cynicism and distrust of a high-level political process that appears increasingly removed from their suffering.”