African Union Describes Horrific Cases of Rape and Forced Cannibalism In South Sudan’s Civil War


The African Union (AU) has accused government and rebel forces in South Sudan of extreme violence since the conflict erupted at the end of 2013.

A commission of inquiry found evidence of killings, torture, mutilations and rape, mostly against civilians, as well as episodes of forced cannibalism.

However, it specified that genocide had not been committed during the conflict.

Tensions remain, with a peace deal agreed between the government and rebels in August repeatedly broken.

Tens of thousands of people have died and another two million people have been forced from their homes since the civil war began nearly two years ago.

The gruesome accounts of abuses will grab the headlines, but the AU report also contains two conclusions which will make particularly difficult reading for President Salva Kiir.

The first: the AU Commission did not believe his account of an attempted coup against him which sparked the conflict: “From all the information available to the Commission, the evidence does not point to a coup.”

The second: the subsequent killings of Nuer soldiers and civilians in Juba were “committed pursuant to or in furtherance of a state policy” as part of “an organized military operation”.

The report also discusses the what has long been claimed by President Kiir’s opponents: that the massacres in Juba were carried out, in part, by a militia drawn largely from the president’s ethnic group, created before the crisis.

It should not be forgotten that Riek Machar’s forces are accused by the AU of terrible and terrifying abuses too.

But the fact that the AU body rejects President Kiir’s coup claim, and holds his forces responsible for organised killings in the very first days of the war, will shape how the rest of the world and future generations allocate blame for the conflict.

In its report, the AU said the commission, formed last year under the chairmanship of Nigeria’s ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, had identified perpetrators of violence from both sides.

It documented details of brutal killings, abductions of woman and sexual violence among other abuses, mostly committed against civilians who were not taking part in the fighting.

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