July 11 (UPI) — A U.N. report published Tuesday accused the South Sudanese government and its allied forces of committing “gross violations of human rights” that amount to war crimes.
The Human Rights Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan found South Sudanese forces attacked at least 40 villages between April 16 and May 24. During that time, 232 civilians, including 35 children, were killed. Several elderly and disabled people were burned alive, the agency said.
In addition, the report said 120 women or girls were raped or gang raped. In one incident, witnesses said a 6-year-old girl was gang raped by eight soldiers who continued their assault even after the girl became unconscious.
The attacks displaced nearly 2,000 people, more than half of them children, to a designated protection site, while approximately 8,000 people have been displaced to the bush and swamps.
South Sudanese forces also are accused of burning or pillaging humanitarian facilities in at least 21 locations, resulting in the deaths of at least three national aid workers.
“The attackers arrived in the village when I was still sleeping,” a 75-year-old woman told the United Nations. “Some were wearing military uniform and others in civilian clothes. I did not have time to run. They shouted us to come out of our tukuls and asked us for money and alcohol. I gave them the little money I had, and they asked me where my children and cattle were. Some of the attackers started to set fire to our tukuls, grains and food stocks. I lost everything, and I have no hope for my future. I am surviving by eating roots. It would have been better if they would have killed me.”
The Guardian reported the U.N. report is expected to pressure other governments, including the United States, to impose more sanctions on the South Sudanese government.
The war between the South Sudanese government and rebels from the north has been raging since 2014. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2.5 million have been displaced or fled the country.
Both sides have been in peace talks, but those fell apart in recent days.