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SPLA denies reports of killings & mass displacement in Upper Nile

Author : | Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017

A satellite images published by Amnesty International showing burnt out homes in areas of central Wau Shilluk. PHOTO//DigitalGlobe 2017

The SPLA acting spokesperson says a report by Amnesty International, accusing the government forces of committing human rights abuses in the Greater Upper Nile region, is bias.

In the report released on Wednesday, Amnesty International said the army carried out indiscriminate shelling, targeted burning, and looting of properties between March and May.

It said that SPLA soldiers used an anti-nov plane to bomb villages and destroying homes in the area.

Based on interviews with victims and eyewitnesses, Amnesty International said tens of thousands of civilians in South Sudan’s Upper Nile region were forcibly displaced as government forces burnt, shelled and systematically looted their homes between January and May 2017.

The rights group said it conducted interviews with 79 victims and eyewitnesses to abuses at an ad hoc displaced persons camp in Aburoc, and in the UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal, both in the Upper Nile region in late May and June, 2017.

“Whole areas of the Shilluk heartland have been ravaged, with civilians’ homes burnt and their belongings and food stores looted. This leaves them with little prospect of returning home, given the region’s growing humanitarian crisis and their fears of renewed violence,”said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

The organization said it also spoke to numerous humanitarian staff, UN officials, and opposition, political and civil society figures in Aburoc, Malakal and Juba.

In response, the acting spokesperson of the SPLA , Santo Domic described the report as bias.

“The report that they have actually produced is actually completely one sided and biased. Amnesty International goes on air to tell the whole world that the SPLA used anti-nov to bomb villages that is ridiculous, we do not even have anti-nov in South Sudan,” Domic said.

Domic said SPLA soldiers follow strict rules of engagement during such clashes, and civilians are not their target.

“In the SPLA our rules of engagement is very clear; we respect the civil population. All that allegations being created by the international community are lies,” he added.

In the report, Amnesty International said some civilians have returned to their homes since the offensive, but the large majority remain displaced.

It added that tens of thousands have fled north to become refugees in Sudan, and some 10,000 others are surviving in squalid conditions in an ad hoc camp in Aburoc village that has been wracked by dire shortages and cases of cholera.

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