South Sudan lets fighters rape women as payment, the UN rights office said Friday, describing the country as “one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world.”
“The assessment team received information that the armed militias… who carry out attacks together with the SPLA (South Sudanese army) commit violations under an agreement of ‘do what you can and take what you can,'” the rights office said in a new report.
“Most of the youth therefore also raided cattle, stole personal property, raped and abducted women and girls as a form of payment,” the report added.
In the report, the UN human rights office painted a harrowing picture of civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children, being burned alive, suffocated in shipping containers, hanged from trees and cut to pieces.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein meanwhile warned that brutal rapes had been used systematically as “an instrument of terror and weapon of war.”
Between April and September 2015, the UN found that more than 1,300 rapes were reported in South Sudan’s Unity State alone. Even women inside UN protected camps were at risk when they went out to collect food or firewood, several of them were then raped or abducted and held in sexual slavery as “wives” for soldiers in barracks.
Al Hussein also said the number of rapes in the report was only a “snapshot of the real total”, and that the massive use of rape as an instrument of war and terror had largely been off the international radar.
“The report contains harrowing accounts of civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children and the disabled, killed by being burned alive, suffocated in containers, shot, hanged from trees or cut to pieces,” the UN human rights office said in a statement.
“This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world,” Al Hussein said in a statement.
After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan erupted into civil war in December 2013, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that have split the poverty-stricken, landlocked country along ethnic lines.
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