South Sudan conflict: UN warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’

Ethnic cleansing is taking place in war-torn South Sudan, the country’s UN human rights commission has warned.

This handout picture taken on April 15, 2014 and released on April 23 by the the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) shows debris outside the Kali-Ballee Mosque in the oil town of Bentiu, Unity State, on April 15, 2014. "More than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded," the UN mission in the country said, adding there were also massacres at a church, hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Programme (WFP) compound. South Sudan's army has been fighting rebels loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar, who launched a renewed offensive this month targeting key oil fields.  AFP PHOTO / HO / UNMISS RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / UNMISS " - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS-/AFP/Getty Images

This handout picture taken on April 15, 2014 and released on April 23 by the the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) shows debris outside the Kali-Ballee Mosque in the oil town of Bentiu, Unity State, on April 15, 2014. “AFP PHOTO / HO / UNMISS ” – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS-/AFP/Getty Images

Dec 14, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— It says it has observed starvation, the burning of villages and rape being used as weapons of war across the country.

The three-member commission, which was established earlier this year, has just completed a 10-day visit to South Sudan, which has been blighted by conflict for more than three years.

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President Salva Kiir has denied that ethnic cleansing is taking place.

‘I spent days hiding in a swamp’

In a statement released on Thursday, the commission says “the stage is being set for a repeat of what happened in Rwanda” in 1994 – a reference to the killing of 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in the space of three months.

Yasmin Sooka, the chair of the commission, said that everywhere the team went in South Sudan, it “heard villagers saying they are ready to shed blood to get their land back”.

South Sudan’s civil war has caused more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes.

It began in 2013, two years after South Sudan became independent, when President Salva Kiir sacked his cabinet and accused Vice-President Riek Machar of instigating a failed coup.

Government and rebels agreed to attend peace talks in 2014, and a deal was signed a year later.

Mr Machar eventually returned from exile to be reinstated as first vice-president of a new unity government under Mr Kiir in April 2016.

However he was again sacked months later after renewed conflict.

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