Ambassador of France in South Sudan said the civilians killed in Southern Liech state between April and May this year, proved beyond doubts they were deliberately targeted.
On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights monitors issued a report saying government forces deliberately attacked women and children in the former Unity State between April and May.
The monitors found out that between 16 April and 24 May, at least 232 civilians were killed and many more injured in attacks by government and aligned forces and armed youth on villages in opposition-controlled areas in Mayendit and Leer.
The report said civilians were targeted, with the elderly, people with disabilities and very young children killed.
Speaking on Saturday, at the French National Day celebration on 14th July, in remembrance of the French Revolution, the French diplomat said those responsible should be brought to justice.
“The recent report on the atrocity committed against civilians in Southern Liech state in May this year, 236 civilians killed and 120 women raped. Some said that the report was biased, possibly, but the evidence is there and the facts are still facts. All parties signed agreement and cessation of hostilities in December 2017, within that, they have committed to using force to combat criminals or in self-defense.”
In response, the SPLA rejected the report said its positions were attacked by the opposition forces and fought back in self-defense.
However, the French ambassador, Jean Yves Roux said facts showed the civilians were shot while fleeing, and there is no justification that the civilians were killed in self-defense.
“Shooting women and children in the back while fleeing into swamps, is it a self-defense? No, it’s a murder, raping and killing lactating mothers, is it fighting criminals? No, it’s committing a crime. So which political leaders could come to us today and say that was done on my behalf to serve the cause, there is no cause in this. It’s committing a crime. Those who committed these crimes are criminals, thugs, and cowards, they must be caught, judged and punished.”
Ambassador Jean-Yves further warned that South Sudan is on the verge of collapsing and there is a need for urgency to end the violence.
“There is still no peace in South Sudan, the level of human suffering has never been so affirmed the number of refugees and the internally displaced person has continued to rise. And the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis has broken an unprecedented record, South Sudan is collapsing so there is urgency.”
He says the peace partners will have to work with trust and transparency in achieving lasting peace in the country.