The UN has documented ethnically targeted rapes and killings by government forces in South Sudan. The country faces a renewed humanitarian and political crisis.
South Sudanese government soldiers and security forces have murdered dozens of people and gang-raped women and girls during the latest outbreak of fighting in the country, the United Nations said on Thursday.
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that during a two week period in July, forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, raped at least 217 mostly ethnic Nuer women, who are of the same ethnicity as rebel leader and former Vice President Riek Machar.
A peace process to end fighting that started in December 2013 collapsed last month, pitting Machar and Kiir's forces against each other and threatening to exacerbate an already dire humanitarian crisis in Africa's youngest nation.
Since the outbreak of renewed fighting last month, 60,000 people have been displaced, adding to the already nearly 2 million forced from their homes in more than two years of fighting. At least 10,000 people have been killed.
This week Kiir fired six ministers allied to Machar, who had fled the capital last month. The ministers were replaced by a rival breakaway faction of Machar's SPLM-IO party. The appointments threatened to deepen an already huge chasm between the two sides.
At least 87 civilian deaths were also documented in the latest round of fighting, a number that the UN said was likely to increase.
"While some civilians were killed in crossfire between the fighting forces, others were reportedly summarily executed by Government (SPLA) soldiers, who appear to have specifically targeted people of Nuer origin," Zeid said in a statement.
Zeid urged world powers to take action to cool tensions that remain "very high" in the country.
cw/kms (AP, Reuters)