(Nairobi) – South Sudanese government forces and allied fighters carried out scores of killings, rapes, and widespread burning and pillage of civilian property in a military offensive in Unity State causing forced displacement, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian property during the offensive between April and June 2015 amount to war crimes, and the killings and rapes may also constitute crimes against humanity.
The 42-page report, “They Burned it All: Destruction of Villages, Killings, and Sexual Violence in South Sudan’s Unity State,” is based on more than170 interviews in June and July with survivors and witnesses. More than 125 of these were displaced by fighting or attacks on their villages by government troops or allied militia from the Bul Nuer ethnic group. Human Rights Watch documented shocking accounts of about 60 unlawful killings of civilian women, men, and children, including the elderly. Some were hanged and others shot, and others were burned alive. Interviewees were selected randomly and the number of cases documented by Human Rights Watch almost certainly represents only a fraction of the total.