South Sudan conflict: UN says atrocities on both sides
- 17 January 2014
- From the section Africa
Both sides in South Sudan's conflict have carried out atrocities, a UN human rights chief has said.
In a BBC interview, Ivan Simonovic said the towns of Bor and Bentiu - which had changed hands a number of times - were now "ghost towns".
He was speaking after visiting South Sudan to prepare a report for the UN.
Several thousand people are believed to have been killed over the past month in the conflict between the government and the rebels.
'Looted and burned'
Mr Simonovic told the BBC that both government soldiers and rebels had committed atrocities.
"The level of involvement in the atrocities was different in different locations."
Destruction of Rubkona, Unity State
- Satellite images obtained by the UN on 2 January and 13 January show the destruction of the northern town of Rubkona, not far from Bentiu, an area that has seen heavy fighting
- Preliminary UN analysis concludes the majority of the town was destroyed, primarily by fire. Almost 4,000 burned or other damaged buildings were identified in the area
- The UN says there is also evidence of looting, with piles of debris in multiple locations
Mr Simonovic said that worst-affected were the southern town of Bor, and Bentiu in the north of the country.
"Bor is empty and Bentiu does not exist anymore; it has been wiped out. It has not been only looted, it has been burned," Mr Simonovic told the BBC.
"You can find citizens only in camps for displaced persons. What is appalling is that you have an ethnicised truth, how conflict began, who is targeting civilians.
He said there had been reports of "mass killings, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, widespread destruction and looting of property and use of the children in conflict".
"I do think it is essential to have an enhanced monitoring and reporting on atrocities that have taken place."
In the capital, Juba, there were allegations of large numbers rounded up and killed because of their ethnicity.
Mr Simonovic said his team's report would be released in a couple of weeks' time.
Meanwhile, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had been forced to suspend its aid efforts in the town of Malakal following the looting of its compounds.
The conflict broke out on 15 December, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup - charges he denies.
The dispute has seen killings along ethnic lines - Mr Kiir is a member of the Dinka community, the country's largest, while Mr Machar is from the Nuer ethnic group.