May 20, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudanese government forces killed 114 civilians in Yei, a town located about 100 miles from the capital, Juba between July 2016 and January 2017, the United Nations said.
Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers singing pro-war song (AFP file photo)
The U.N, in a new report, also documented various crimes of rape, looting and torture, allegedly committed by government forces in and around Yei town.
"Attacks were committed with an alarming degree of brutality and, like elsewhere in the country, appeared to have an ethnic dimension," partly reads a section of the U.N investigation report.
Yei, a relatively peaceful region until mid-last year, has lately been experiencing lots of clashes between government forces and the armed opposition troops loyal to ex-First Vice President, Riek Machar.
The U.N investigations report also highlights various cases of sexual violence, including rape, allegedly committed by pro-government forces on women and young girls in and around the town of Yei.
"In view of the restrictions of access faced by (the UN), the number of documented cases may only be a fraction of those actually committed. Some of the human rights violations and abuses committed in and around Yei may amount to war crimes and/or crimes against humanity and warrant further investigation,” it says.
ARMY DENIES ALLEGATIONS
South Sudan army spokesperson Colonel Santo Domic Chol has, however, dismissed the U.N report, describing it as “baseless”.
"This is not the first time the UN has accused the SPLA and tried to portray us as enemies of the people," Chol told Reuters.
“The SPLA is one of the biggest military institutions in the country and it accommodates people from different background and the whole SPLA cannot go out and rape citizens... so it has to be specific that we have seen two or three SPLA soldiers in such location committing such crimes,” he added.
The military official said President Salva Kiir ordered all army commanders in Yei to punish soldiers who committed gender-based violence.
Last week, two U.N agencies appealed to donors to step up support for people fleeing crisis-hit South Sudan as the $1.4 billion response plan remains 86 percent unfunded.
According to the U.N, the situation in war-torn South Sudan continues worsening, with a combination of conflict, drought and famine leading to further displacement and a rapid exodus of people fleeing one of the world’s most severe crises.
South Sudan has reportedly now become the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis with more than 1.8 million refugees, including one million children, having sought safety in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).
South Sudan has witnessed renewed clashes between forces loyal to South Sudan President Kiir and the armed opposition faction (SPLM-IO) backing the country’s former First Vice-President, in spite of the August 2015 peace deal.