'Girls raped, boys abducted, towns torched' as South Sudan battle rages

2015-05-12 14:17

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Juba - Gunmen in South Sudan have raped girls, seized boys to become soldiers and torched towns in some of the heaviest fighting seen in the 17-month-long civil war, the United Nations (UN) said on Tuesday.

Over 300 000 civilians have been left without "life-saving aid" in the northern battleground state of Unity, after the UN and aid agencies pulled out due to a surge in fighting, with over 100 000 forced to flee their homes.

The UN peacekeeping mission said it was "increasingly concerned" about reports from Guit and Koch counties in Unity state of "towns and villages being burned, killings, abductions of males as young as 10 years of age, rape and abduction of girls and women, and the forced displacement of civilians."

The violence is some of the worst in months, as government forces push south from the state capital Bentiu into an opposition zone around the town of Leer, home to some of the country's once lucrative oil fields.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has also withdrawn staff from Leer and warned that escalating fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar was forcing thousands of civilians to flee for their lives yet again.

Unity state governor Joseph Monytuil told reporters late on Monday that government troops aimed to take Leer from opposition forces within days. "Our forces... are now pursuing them to where they came from," said Monytuil.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Saturday it was forced to evacuate its foreign staff from Leer and halt all medical services amid fears the rebel-held town was about to come under "imminent attack" from government forces.

‘Man-made crisis’

Leer, the birthplace of Machar, was ransacked by government forces in January 2014. Gunmen looted the MSF hospital and burned some of the buildings.

MSF has since rebuilt the hospital, the only referral facility in opposition areas.

South Sudan's civil war began in December 2013 and has been characterised by ethnically-driven massacres, rape and attacks on civilians and medical facilities.

Peace talks in neighbouring Ethiopia have so far failed to reach any lasting agreement, or even an effective ceasefire.

The violence, which has escalated into an ethnic conflict involving multiple armed groups, has killed tens of thousands of people in the world's youngest nation, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

It has also left over half of the country's 12 million people in need of aid, with 2.5 million people facing severe food insecurity, according to the UN.

The European Union late on Monday condemned the fighting, saying that "South Sudan's man-made crisis has caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters of recent years."

EU aid chief Christos Stylianides said there "can be no military solution to this conflict" and that responsibility for striking a peace deal rests on the shoulders of the leaders.

"If they fail to make the necessary effort for peace, they will inevitably be held responsible also for the consequences," he said in a statement.

Read more on:    un  |  riek machar  |  salva kiir  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.