(Nairobi, June 4, 2019) – Government soldiers carried out extensive abuses against civilians during counter-insurgency operations in South Sudanbetween December 2018 and March 2019 in Yei River state, Human Rights Watch said today.

The soldiers shot at civilians, looted extensively, burned homes and crops, and chased thousands of residents from their villages. Human Rights Watch also documented accounts of rape and sexual violence by soldiers. 

“Civilians are being targeted, killed, and raped, as government operations try to root out rebels in Yei River state,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “All parties need to put a stop to the crimes against civilians and ensure accountability, while the government should help people regain their homes and livelihoods.”

Between March 14 and 21, Human Rights Watch interviewed 72 displaced people in Yei River state who witnessed the government operations in various locations in Mukaya and Otogo counties. Researchers also spoke with ceasefire monitors, aid workers, UN staff, and state government officials including the governor of Yei River State.