UN Photo/Isaac Gideon

A senior United Nations human rights official today called for holding accountable those committing atrocity crimes in conflict-torn South Sudan.

“This is a war that has been waged against the men, women and children of South Sudan,”said the UN Assistant Secretary-General for human rights, Andrew Gilmour, as he wrapped up a four-day visit to country. “And the only way of ending this onslaught, will be when the perpetrators face consequences for what they are doing.”

According to a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Mr. Gilmour travelled to Malakal, where he received further information concerning the suffering of the civilian population in the area.

“Although this is the fourth time I’ve been in South Sudan since 2011, I wasn’t prepared for the shocking devastation I witnessed in Malakal and even more by the clear pattern of systematic human rights violations and abuses suffered by the population,” he said.

The release said that women have been frequently subjected to rape, both by non-government militias and Government forces known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), on their route to the market in Malakal town. Rape and gang rape is present in the testimonies of numerous women in the area, though this was categorically denied by the SPLA Division Commander with whom Gilmour spoke.

“It is utterly abhorrent that women in this area have to choose between getting raped or getting a livelihood,” Mr. Gilmour said, “But this seems the brutal reality of what South Sudan has become.”

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