UN says S. Sudan's forces killed 114 civilians in Yei town

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/5/20 7:55:36

The UN human rights office said on Friday that South Sudan's pro-government forces killed 114 civilians in and around Yei town, 150 km southwest of the capital of Juba, between July 2016 and January.

An investigation report by the Human Rights Division of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office also say the pro-government forces committed human rights violations and abuses.

"The conflict in Yei, in particular, highlights the startling level of impunity in South Sudan, which has fed successive cycles of violence across the country," the report states.

South Sudan slipped back into conflict due to renewed clashes between rival forces - the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the SPLA in Opposition backing former First Vice-President Riek Machar, despite the August 2015 peace agreement.

Until recently, Yei was largely a peaceful town, with between 200,000 and 300,000 residents of many different ethnicities.

But violence erupted in July 2016 between government and opposition forces, which led to the departure of Machar together with a small group of followers across the Equatorias, into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The fighting simultaneously broke out along the route as government forces pursued him, particularly in Yei.

"This violence fuelled strong divisions along ethnic lines and resulted in targeted killings, arrests, rapes and mass civilian displacement of more than half of the population of the town," said the UN report.

The report documents violations and abuses against civilians on both sides of the conflict, based on ethnicity and/or their presumed support for other side.

"The extent of the abuses by armed opposition groups remains unclear due to lack of access to areas where these groups are active," it says.

The report finds that these violations and abuses may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and that they warrant further investigation.

The report exposes cases of indiscriminate shelling of civilians; targeted killings; looting and burning of civilian property and cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting.

"Satellite imagery used to corroborate allegations shows that there was widespread burning of homes and businesses, resulting in the forcible displacement of tens of thousands of civilians," the report says.

"Even as people fled the violence, reports suggest that armed actors harassed, robbed and targeted them as they headed to Uganda to seek refuge."

The report documents "the profound human suffering caused by the ongoing conflict and the exploitation of local and ethnic divisions for political ends."

Posted in: AFRICA

blog comments powered by Disqus