Mass rape and killings in South Sudan may constitute war crimes, says UN

rape un

The United Nations has accused South Sudanese government forces and allied militias of potential “war crimes” over a campaign of rape and killing that targeted civilians in opposition-held villages in the conflict-torn country. According to the UN human rights office, at least 232 civilians were killed and 120 women and girls raped during an offensive between 16 April and 24 May in the country’s Unity state, with three commanders identified as bearing the “greatest responsibility” in the violence.

Among the victims was a six-year-old who investigators say was gang-raped by soldiers, and elderly and disabled villagers who were burned alive in their huts. The UN report will increase pressure on the international community – not least the US – to impose fresh sanctions against senior figures in South Sudan over continuing serious human rights abuses.

It echoes allegations of serious human rights abuses made to the Guardian last month by villagers fleeing the fighting, as well as reports by human rights groups. Last month during a visit to the area of the attacks, survivors – who had fled across the Sudd marshes – detailed to the Guardian how villagers, including elderly residents, had been burned alive in their homes. The accounts were confirmed by an investigation conducted by the Human Rights Division of the UN mission in South Sudan.(theguardian)…[+]