The UN report detailed that the human rights abuses, which were systematically meted out to civilians, including minors, could possibly be categorized as war crimes.
Reports from the United Nation's Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has disclosed heinous human rights violations that were committed in the eight-year-old nation in 2018.
The global agency stated that sexual violence against women is rampant and reported "on a massive scale," while similar violations against men and boys "remains significantly under-reported due to social stigma." The organization also detailed - in a report - that the human rights abuses which were systematically meted out to civilians, including minors, could possibly be categorized as war crimes.
"There is a confirmed pattern of how combatants attack villages, plunder homes, take women as sexual slaves and then set homes alight – often with people in them," Commission Chair Yasmin Sooka commented on the report's findings.
"Rapes, gang rapes, sexual mutilation, abductions and sexual slavery, as well as killings, have become commonplace in South Sudan," the human rights official added. According to the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), about 25 percent of those targeted by sexual violence are children, including girls as young as seven years old.
The Commission referenced the accounts of 135 individual as well as gathered over 3,100 documents, including confidential records which covered incidents in South Sudan since December 2013.
The report indicated that the UNMISS Human Rights Division (HRD) recorded "55 incidents of violence against women and girls, involving 175 victims, that occurred between September and December 2018. Of these 175 victims, 134 were survivors of rape or gang rape, while 41 were victims of other forms of sexual and physical violence including one case of unlawful killing, as well as flogging, beating, sexual molestation and forced nudity. Of the 134 female survivors of rape or gang rape, 50 were girls between the ages of 8 and 17."
Additionally, as noted in the report, "hostilities have persisted" in the African nation despite the signing of a peace accord and the declaration of a ceasefire in June 2018.
"Due in large part to the conflict, 60 percent of the South Sudanese population is severely food insecure, and there remain 2.2 million refugees and 1.9 million internally displaced persons."
The release further charged that the continuous aggression and destabilization, which has placed South Sudan in the dire humanitarian circumstances, comes from a conflict which includes the army, rebel and armed forces, the National Security Service, as well as two unidentified state governors.
"There is no doubt that these crimes are persistent because impunity is so entrenched in South Sudan that every kind of norm is broken even raping and killing the young and the elderly," Commission member Andrew Clapham said at a news conference in Geneva Wednesday.
"We think that through accountability and reconciliation there's the possibility for the South Sudanese [people] to deal with the past and secure their future stability and prosperity."
Clapham added that more than 5,000 refugees had already fled to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
The report also linked the ongoing conflict in South Sudan with oil production.
"If you are involved in oil extraction in that area and you are asked to assist one side or the other, you could be accused of complicity in war crimes. There are Council members that we think have a responsibility to look more carefully at this," Clapham concluded.