UN says government forces killed, raped civilians in S Sudan

217 cases of sexual violence documented by UN officials revealed that the assault mostly targeted displaced Nuer women.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Displaced people walk next to a razor wire fence at the United Nations base in the capital Juba, South Sudan, Jan. 19, 2016.

Government soldiers and security forces in South Sudan executed civilians, gang raped women and girls last month during an escalation of violence, the UN Human Rights chief said on Thursday.  

The bloodshed erupted between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and forces of the rival first Vice President Riek Machar in and around the capital city, Juba, on July 7.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said to the 15-member Council that hundreds of fighters and civilians were killed during the violence.

Zeid said at least 217 cases of sexual violence in Juba had been documented during the period of July 8-25.

According to the witnesses and aid workers, mostly Nuer women who sheltered outside the main UN camp in Juba were abused in the widespread violence. 

“While some civilians were killed in crossfire between the fighting forces, others were reportedly summarily executed by Government (SPLA) soldiers, who appear to have specifically targeted people of Nuer origin," Zeid said in a statement.

Zeid pointed that “tensions remain very high, and violations continue to take place in Juba and other parts of the country,”  adding that more than 73 civilian have been died so far and death toll “may in fact turn out to be much higher.”

South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 however the young nation went to conflict again two years later.

A political power struggle erupted between President Kiir and former Vice president Machar who was sacked in a cabinet purge in this year, shaping the country’s destiny over 5 years.

President Kiir accused him for orchestrating a coup against him just after his dismission.  

Machar fled the country but the rivals drove South Sudan inside of a civil war, leaving tens of thousands dead, more than two million people displaced.

In April 2016, he returned to the country and  served again  as first vice president in the unity government which has been led by President Salva Kiir.

TRTWorld and agencies