UN: Government troops killed 114 civilians in Yei
Government troops killed at least 114 civilians in and around Yei town between July 2016 and January 2017, a new United Nations report said Friday.
Until last year, Yei had been largely peaceful with thousands of people from various ethnic groups. But after clashes erupted in Juba in July 2016, violence spread to some parts of the country.
As opposition leader Riek Machar left the capital and fled into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, fighting erupted in Yei and elsewhere in Central Equatoria.
The investigation released by the UN human rights office said those cases and other abuses may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and that they warrant further investigation.
The new report further said it found cases of indiscriminate shelling of civilians; targeted killings; looting and burning of civilian property and cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting.
The report said it documented “the profound human suffering caused by the ongoing conflict and the exploitation of local and ethnic divisions for political ends.”
"The extent of the abuses by armed opposition groups remains unclear due to lack of access to areas where these groups are active," the report said.
The UN report pointed out that satellite imagery used to corroborate allegations shows that there was widespread burning of homes and businesses, resulting in the forcible displacement of tens of thousands of civilians.
“Even as people fled the violence, reports suggest that armed actors harassed, robbed and targeted them as they headed to Uganda to seek refuge,” according to the report.
“The conflict in Yei, in particular, highlights the startling level of impunity in South Sudan, which has fed successive cycles of violence across the country,” the report stated.
Government officials could not immediately be reached for comment.