South Sudan's army raped and burned girls alive in their homes in a recent upsurge in fighting, according to a new United Nations report alleging "widespread" atrocities.
The world's youngest nation has been ripped apart by civil war. Recent fighting in Unity state between government troops — known as the SPLA — and rebels has sparked fears of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the world's youngest nation. Aid agencies, including the International Rescue Committee, have withdrawn staff amid the violence which has displaced more than 100,000 people.
The United Nations Mission in Sudan said Tuesday that it found evidence of "widespread human rights abuses" allegedly committed by the SPLA, part of a campaign allegedly of "killing, rape, abduction, looting, arson and displacement" marked by "a new brutality and intensity.”
"Some of the most disturbing allegations... focused on the abduction and sexual abuse of women and girls, some of whom were reportedly burnt alive in their dwellings," it said in a statement.
The U.N. said it had sought access to the sites of alleged atrocities but been "routinely" denied access by the SPLA, though further interviews with eyewitnesses and victims "provided further corroboration" of the allegations.
South Sudan's military did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
South Sudan — which split from Sudan in 2011 — descended into chaos in 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. Both sides have been accused of committing atrocities in the ensuing conflict, which has killed thousands.