UN: Attacks by South Sudan forces 'may be war crimes'

Ruthless and brutal attacks on civilians in South Sudan by government forces and their allies may amount to war crimes, the UN says.

A report documented attacks in April and May in opposition-controlled areas in Unity State.

It says at least 232 women and girls were raped, including children as young as four.

UN human rights monitors say victims told them
how government troops would storm into villages and start shooting at fleeing civilians.

A 14-year-old girl from Thonyor Payam in Leer County said: "All the violence I have witnessed is something I can never forget. How can I forget the sight of an old man whose throat was slit with a knife before being set on fire?"

"How can I forget the smell of those decomposed bodies of old men and children pecked and eaten by birds?"

"Those women that were hanged and died up in the tree?"

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called on the government to bring those responsible to justice: "There must be consequences for the men who reportedly gang-raped a six-year-old child, who slit the throats of elderly villagers, who hanged women for resisting looting, and shot fleeing civilians in the swamps where they hid."

"Those who ordered and facilitated these horrific crimes must be brought to account."

"The government of South Sudan and the international community have the obligation to ensure justice."

Tens of thousands of people have been killed during the five-year civil war - and a third of the population displaced.

A ceasefire between the warring parties was agreed last month as a prelude to final peace deal.


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