South Sudan allowed soldiers to rape civilians in civil war says UN report

London, Mar. 12 (ANI): According to a UN report, South Sudanese government allowed its soldiers and militias to rape women in lieu of wages, torture and murder suspected opponents and deliberately displace as many people as possible during the country’s civil war.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published a harrowing document on Friday; six months after accounts emerged revealing the systematic abduction and abuse of thousands of women and girls during the conflict.

The reports revealed the atrocities committed by both sides since the war broke out in December 2013 and warned that many of those may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, adding that most of the civilian casualties were the result of deliberately targeted attacks rather than combat operations.

While the report found that all sides had committed “serious violations and abuses”, it was unequivocal in asserting that “the government appears to be responsible for the gross and systematic human rights violations”.

The UN recorded more than 1,300 reports of rape in Unity state alone, an oil-rich area in the north of the country that has seen some of the worst violence of the conflict from April to September last year.

It added that the opposition forces in 2014 harried towns in the area, turning churches, mosques and hospitals into veritable traps for civilians.

The civilians were deliberately targeted again ever after the forces scattered in 2015 in the face of an offensive waged by government troops in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

The report noted that the prevalence of rape suggested that its use had become “an acceptable practice by SPLA soldiers and affiliated armed militias”. Its assessment team was told that youth militias who carry out attacks with the SPLA had an agreement – “do what you can and take what you can”.

The report said that Most of the youth therefore also raided cattle, stole personal property, raped and abducted women and girls as a form of payment.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that while South Sudan was one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world, the situation was struggling to attract international attention reports the Guardian.

“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. However, the quantity of rapes and gang-rapes described in the report must only be a snapshot of the real total,” Guardian quoted him as saying.

Meanwhile the government flatly rejected suggestions that SPLA soldiers have been involved in the human rights abuses detailed in the report.

“We condemn in the strongest terms possible any crimes committed against civilians,” Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesman for President, Salva Kiir, reports the Guardian.

Ateny, said that the atrocities may have been carried out by militias wearing SPLA uniforms and insisted that government troops operated under strict rules of engagement that prohibit the targeting of civilians.

South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has been in conflict since December 2013, when President Kiir accused Riek Machar, his former vice-president of plotting a coup.

The fight tore the country apart along sectarian lines, pitting supporters of Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, against those backing Machar, an ethnic Nuer.

At least 50,000 people have been killed and 2.2 million further displaced in the past two years. (ANI)

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