Atrocities virtually beyond human comprehension have been committed by South Sudan’s army according to a United Nations (UN) report released today.
The report said young girls were raped and then burned alive during an army campaign described as being new in “brutality and intensity.”
UN mission in the Republic of South Sudan investigators (Unmiss) cited “widespread human rights abuses”, which included gang-rape and torture.
The UN report was based on 115 victim and eyewitnesses interviews. All incidents took place in South Sudan’s northern state of Unity which has seen the heaviest fighting in the civil war which has been raging for 18-months.
“Some of the most disturbing allegations compiled by Unmiss human rights officers focused on the abduction and sexual abuse of women and girls, some of whom were reportedly burned alive in their dwellings.” read the report.
At least nine separate incidents showed “women and girls were burned in tukuls (huts) after being gang-raped” as well as many cases or rape of mothers in front of their children. One eyewitness reported “government forces gang-raping a lactating mother after tossing her baby aside”, while another described troops making a woman hold “burning-red coals” when they questioned her on the whereabouts of cattle and “rebels” .
There has been no comment from the South Sudanese army which in the past has denied allegations of abuse.
The UN report has been given to government officials, who had yet to comment on its findings.
UNmiss investigators have attempted to get to the sites of the atrocities but were turned back by the army.
Ellen Margrethe Loej, Unmiss head chief called for “unfettered access” .
“Revealing the truth of what happened offers the best hope for ensuring accountability for such terrible violence and ending the cycle of impunity that allows these abuses to continue,” she said.
Rebel forces have also been accused of killings, rape and using child soldiers.
Unicef, the UN children’s agency, released a report recently which said warring factions had castrated, raped and killed children, further condemning the ruling regime.