File Photo: South Sudan soldiers. AP
The United Nations on Tuesday decried the killing of 173 civilians between February and May in South Sudan's northern state of Unity.
"The hostilities in southern Unity State affected at least 28 villages and settlements with approximately 173 civilians killed, 12 injured, and 37 women and children abducted. Many abductees were subjected to sexual violence, including girls as young as eight years old and a nine-year-old girl who was gang-raped to death," the report said.
"A total of 131 cases of rape and gang rape were documented. Approximately 44,000 civilians were displaced from at least 26 villages."
The UNMISS said that it conducted 32 verification missions in four months in Koch, Leer, and Mayendit counties, and in neighboring areas of Unity State.
It identified joint government forces and allied militias/groups reportedly operating under the command of officials of Koch and Mayendit counties as the main perpetrators of the human rights violations and abuses, adding that the SPLM/A-IO under Riek Machar also perpetrated attacks in Mirmir Payam, Koch County.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMISS Nicholas Haysom said human rights violations were committed with impunity.
"The government is duty-bound under international law to protect civilians, investigate allegations of human rights violations, and hold suspected perpetrators accountable in compliance with fair trial standards," he said.