A report released by the United Nations on Friday indicates that all sides of the civil war in South Sudan were carrying out systematic violence against civilians. Women, children, and the disabled have been targeted in horrific mass-casualty attacks that included gang rape, suffocation and burning children alive.
According to the report, over ten thousand civilians were killed between November of 2014 and 2015. In a statement by the United Nations on Friday, “The report contains harrowing accounts of civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children and the disabled, killed by being burned alive, suffocated in containers, shot, hanged from trees or cut to pieces”.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, “This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world, with massive use of rape as an instrument of terror and weapon of war,” adding, “Yet it has been more or less off the international radar”.
The report indicates that females both young and old were used as pawns in this conflict. Many became sex slaves and sometimes in lieu of paying soldiers or affiliated militias groups. Women and girls were considered property, forced to become wives and made to do things like carry looted items and do house work. Witnesses told the United Nations that if you looked young or were good looking, about ten men would rape the woman and the older women were raped by about seven to nine men.
Since December 2013, South Sudan has been engulfed in a horrific civil war that has left more than two million people displaced. The government refuses to accept any responsibility for the atrocities cited in the report. The presidential spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny adamantly denies any of the allegations telling reporters, “As a responsible government we take every report seriously when the report is about human rights violations. However, our forces are under strict command to observe human rights and to protect civilians”.
Ateny said, “If there are individuals, soldiers, that comes to violate human rights, then they are doing it at their own peril because the government does not authorize anybody to kill civilians”.
In 2015, at least, seven journalists and several activists were killed in efforts to silence the condition of the country. The United Nations said, “Civil society activists, human rights defenders, humanitarian actors, journalists and print media and even UN staff members have been the subject of threats, intimidation, harassment, detention and in some instances death by the Government”.