UN blames South Sudan army for rapes, killings

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (File, AP)
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. (File, AP)

Nairobi -The UN's top human rights official on Thursday blamed South Sudanese government troops for ethnically targeted killings and rapes committed in renewed fighting in the capital since early July.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said people of Nuer origin were specifically targeted by troops loyal to President Salva Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group.

Days of clashes that broke out on July 7 have led 60 000 South Sudanese to flee the country, mainly into neighbouring Uganda.

More than 1.6 million people are displaced within the borders of the world's newest country, mostly as a result of previous fighting.

Nearly 300 people have died in the latest bout of violence.

Killed in streets

A statement released by Hussein's office said that while crossfire during the worst of the fighting had killed people in the streets of the capital, Juba, some were targeted.

"Others were reportedly summarily executed by government (SPLA) soldiers, who appear to have specifically targeted people of Nuer origin," the statement said.

On July 11, SPLA soldiers went house-to-house, taking away and shooting eight Nuer civilians, the rights chief's office said, adding that they had also killed a Nuer journalist.

The epidemic of sexual violence that has plagued three years of on-off fighting in South Sudan also had an ethnic dimension when soldiers carried out rapes in and outside Juba.

Of 217 cases of sexual violence in Juba recorded by the UN between July 8 and 25, "those most affected were displaced Nuer women and girls and those responsible seem to have been mostly SPLA," Zeid said.

Although the government has established a court aimed at trying SPLA soldiers who commit right abuses, "the violations continue unabated", the commissioner said, along with the forcible recruitment of boys and men.


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