South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has been accused of carrying out killings, raping and looting and destroying property by the United Nations.
UN Human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made the remarks after providing a written update to the Security Council on the preliminary findings of ongoing UN investigations into the five days of fighting that began in the capital Juba on 7 July, and its aftermath.
“The fighting also resulted in widespread sexual violence, including rape and gang rape by soldiers in uniform and men in plain clothes,” Zeid said, adding that Nuer, Dinka and women from the three Equatorian states were all targeted, along with foreign nationals. Many victims were minors.
We have documented at least 217 cases of sexual violence in Juba between 8 and 25 July.
“We have documented at least 217 cases of sexual violence in Juba between 8 and 25 July,” Zeid said. “In a few areas, women from various ethnic groups were raped by heavily armed youth believed to be affiliated to the SPLA in Opposition (SPLA/IO),” he added. “However, according to the information we have gathered so far, those most affected were displaced Nuer women and girls and those responsible seem to have been mostly SPLA.”
The UN human rights chief said that information received by UN human rights officers suggests hundreds of fighters and civilians were killed during the initial fighting. While some civilians were killed in crossfire between the fighting forces, others were reportedly summarily executed by Government soldiers, who appear to have specifically targeted people of opposition side.
At least 73 civilian deaths have been reported so far by the UN, but it is believed the civilian death toll may in fact turn out to be much higher. The UN was denied access to some of the hardest-hit areas in the days following the conflict and a number of restrictions on movement remain in place.