Home | News    Wednesday 1 July 2015

UN documents atrocities committed by S. Sudan army in Unity state

June 30, 2015 (JUBA) – United Nations (UN) investigations uncovered “disturbing” killing of civilians, rapes and abduction in South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity state between April and June, according to a statement released on Tuesday.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it found “evidence of widespread human rights abuses allegedly committed” by government troops and allied militias.

“UNMISS staff members interviewed 115 victims and eyewitnesses from the Unity state counties of Rubkona, Guit, Koch, Leer and Mayom where the SPLA launched a major offensive against armed opposition (rebels) forces starting in late April 2015,” the world body said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

The survivors of these attacks reported that SPLA and allied militias from both Warrap state, home to president Salva Kiir and Mayom county of Bul-Nuer, a clan from the Nuer ethnic group, carried out a campaign against the local other ethnic Nuer populations that killed civilians, looted and destroyed villages and displaced over 100,000 people.

The report by UNMISS Human Right Division, dubbed as “atrocities committed in Greater Upper Nile Region” covers the period from April to June 2015. This is one of many similar human rights abuses committed since South Sudan conflict started in December 2013.

Fighters from the government of president Kiir and those of his former deputy, Riek Machar, have been alleged to have killed civilians on ethnicity and burnt villages.

UNMISS said the latest findings discovered “some of the most disturbing allegations compiled by UNMISS human rights in which women and young girls were raped and then burnt to death inside huts by the joint government troops and militia forces from Warrap and Mayom county.

“[UNMISS] officers focused on the abduction and sexual abuse of women and girls, some of whom were reportedly burnt alive in their dwellings,” the report further lamented.

“This recent upsurge [in fighting] has not only been marked by allegations of killing, rape, abduction, looting, arson and displacement, but by a new brutality and intensity,” UNMISS added.

UNMISS said that efforts by its staffs to visit sites of the alleged atrocities was denied though Sudan Tribune could not independently verify this. South Sudanese government also declined to comment on the report insisting that there was nothing “new in the latest accusations against the army,” according to officials at the ministry of foreign affairs.

SPLA spokesman, Col. Philip Aguer, did not return several phone calls on Tuesday to comment on this story.

Ellen Margrethe Loej, the head of UNMISS, urged the government to end the cycle of violence against civilians and hold perpetrators accountable.

“We call on the SPLA to fulfil this commitment and allow our human rights officers unfettered access to the sites of these reported violations,” she said.

The eighteen months old conflict started within the ruling SPLM party in Juba over reforms and leadership issues which turned violent on 15 December 2013 between president Kiir and his former deputy, Machar, the now leader of the armed opposition.

Efforts by regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to end the war amicably has not succeeded. IGAD has rescheduled a new phase for talks in July.