19 May 2017

South Sudan: UN: South Sudan Forces Kill 114 Civilians

Photo: VOA

A U.N. report says South Sudanese pro-government forces killed at least 114 civilians between July 2016 and January 2017 in Yei town.

The report by the Human Rights Division of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UMNISS) and the U.N. Human Rights Office was released Friday. The report also "exposes cases of indiscriminate shelling of civilians; targeted killings; looting and burning of civilian property and cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting."

The U.N. says the crimes "may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity" and warrant further investigation.

The report says the fighting erupted when pro-government forces pursued President Salva Kiir's rival and former deputy Riek Machar. "Fighting broke out along his escape route," the document says.

Yei had been "largely a peaceful town," the U.N. said, with 200,000 to 300,000 residents of different ethnicities. "This violence fueled strong divisions along ethnic lines and resulted in targeted killings, arrests, rapes and mass civilian displacement of more than half of the population of the town."

The report says the conflict in Yei "once again highlights the startling level of impunity in South Sudan, which has fed successive cycles of violence across the country."

South Sudan is mired in its fourth year of conflict since fighting erupted between pro- and anti-Kiir factions in December 2013. The U.N. says more than 1.8 million South Sudanese have fled the country, with another 1.9 million internally displaced from their homes.

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