South Sudan: UN report contains “searing” account of killings, rapes and destruction

A new report on South Sudan published  by the UN Human Rights Office describes “in searing detail” a multitude of horrendous human rights violations, including a Government-operated “scorched earth policy,” and deliberate targeting of civilians for killing, rape and pillage.

Although all parties to the conflict have committed patterns of serious and systematic violence against civilians since fighting broke out in December 2013, the report says state actors bore the greatest responsibility during 2015, given the weakening of opposition forces.

The scale of sexual violence is particularly shocking: in five months last year, from April to September 2015, the UN recorded more than 1,300 reports of rape in just one of South Sudan’s ten states, oil-rich Unity. Credible sources indicate groups allied to the Government are being allowed to rape women in lieu of wages but opposition groups and criminal gangs have also been preying on women and girls.

“The scale and types of sexual violence – primarily by Government SPLA forces and affiliated militia – are described in searing, devastating detail, as is the almost casual, yet calculated, attitude of those slaughtering civilians and destroying property and livelihoods,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra`ad Al Hussein. “However, the quantity of rapes and gang-rapes described in the report must only be a snapshot of the real total. This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world, with massive use of rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war — yet it has been more or less off the international radar.”

Children have borne the brunt of the violence, being maimed, raped, recruited for hostilities and killed throughout this conflict, but there was a sharp increase in reported violations in 2015. The UN has received reports of 702 children affected by incidents of sexual violence since the start of the conflict, with some victims of gang rape as young as nine years old. Both Government and opposition forces have used armed youth groups that include teenagers.

There are reports of 617 child soldiers being recruited during 2014 but the magnitude of the problem is likely far greater because there are reports that thousands of children were recruited by opposition forces from cattle camps since the start of the violence in Unity State.

-> Read the full article on the Office of the High Commissioner for the Human Rights

-> Download the full report


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