Rapes, Killings Rise as South Sudan Conflict Rages, UN Saysby
Scale, intensity of abuses increased with continuation of war
Violations included abductions, looting, child recruitment
Atrocities by both sides in South Sudan’s two-year civil war including extra-judicial killings, rape and abductions increased over the past year, the United Nations said.
The “scale, intensity and severity” of such violations spiked, especially in the middle and latter part of 2015, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said Thursday in a report. It cited indiscriminate attacks on civilians, forced conscription of children and “extensive destruction” of private property. In some areas, entire villages were burned, livestock stolen and crops destroyed in what appeared to be a deliberate government action to cause forced displacement, the UN said.
“Gross violations and abuses of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law have occurred in all areas where fighting has taken place, attributable to all parties to the conflict,” the UN said.
The civil war that began in the oil-producing nation in December 2013 has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced about 2 million others to flee their homes. Rebel delegates have visited the capital, Juba, as part of an August peace deal that seeks to establish a transitional government and end the violence.
While the conflict was initially concentrated in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states, insecurity has spread elsewhere, including “serious escalations” in Central and Western Equatoria, according to the report.
The violence has mainly been perpetrated by President Salva Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or SPLA, and former Vice President Riek Machar’s SPLA Army in Opposition, with both using armed groups and militias, the UN said.
South Sudan’s presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny, said the report reached “a very fabricated conclusion” and that its information was “based on half truths.” If civilians “were caught up,” it “cannot be singled out as targeting,” he said by phone from Juba. “The army is being fully controlled."
Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the head of a rebel foreign-relations committee, didn’t answer his Ethiopian or South Sudan mobile phone when Bloomberg sought comment.