60% of the population experience food insecurity, while a population of just over 12 million people includes 2.2 million refugees and 1.9 million internally displaced. South Sudan will need $1.5bn (£1.1bn) in aid for citizens still inside the country and $2.7bn for its refugees, says the UN. In some areas, 65% of women and 36% of men may have been sexually abused, according to the report. A quarter of victims of sexual violence, used by all sides to sow terror, are children as young as seven. Children are also increasingly being recruited by the warring parties as soldiers. The report tells of people being held for years and tortured in secret, vermin-ridden detention centres; of people hacked to death, children run down by tanks, babies being drowned, starved or smashed against trees.
“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,” said commission chair Yasmin Sooka in a statement about the report’s findings. “Rapes, gang rapes, sexual mutilation, abductions and sexual slavery, as well as killings, have become commonplace in South Sudan.”
The commission added that the army, national security, military intelligence, rebel forces and affiliated armed groups had committed serious human rights breaches,
“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,” said commission member Andrew Clapham.
It is not only in the fighting in the countryside that appalling abuses have taken place. The commission described accounts of prisoners being killed by security forces in and around the capital Juba’s notorious Blue House security headquarters.