Women and children are being slaughtered in South Sudan by soldiers who are said to be using knives for the massacres to save on their ammunition, reports the Independent.
One woman who fled violence in the city of Yei told how she saw her best friend and her children, including a three-month-old baby, butchered.
"The children and the elderly, they slaughtered them," Sylvia, 31, told Save the Children aid workers. "When the armed groups get you with your children, they will kill all of you. They will take you from your homes and slit your throat".
"For the small children they stab them, then they die later. I've seen children tied to their dead mother and thrown in the river, soldiers have been doing this a lot".
Sylvia fled after seeing her best friend murdered, taking in a baby girl she found abandoned at the roadside on her journey to neighbouring Uganda.
“When we began our journey, I saw with my own eyes two boys and one woman…they had been slaughtered,” she added, saying soldiers were using knives to save bullets. “Children weren’t going to school, there was hunger everywhere. Children would die of illness.”[caption id="attachment_52651" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Joy, 14, fled her village in South Sudan when she was eight months pregnant SAVE THE CHILDREN[/caption]
A famine was declared in parts of South Sudan last month in the first such catastrophe the world has seen in six years.
More than 5.5 million people, almost half of the population, will not have a reliable source of food by July in what the UN says is a worsening man-made crisis, driven by the conflict and worsened by government inaction.
The world's youngest nation has been mired in civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir fired his deputy Riek Machar, sparking a conflict that has increasingly split the country along ethnic lines.
Fighting, massacres, looting and village burning has killed tens of thousands, caused widespread hunger and forced three million people from their homes, pitting Kiir's Dinka ethnic group against Machar's Nuer.
A report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday concluded that both government forces and non-state groups were targeting civilian populations on the basis of their ethnic identity with killings, abductions, gang rape and sexual violence on an "epic" scale.[caption id="attachment_52652" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Two women hold their acute malnourished children on March 4, 2017, in a stabilisation centre in Ganyiel, Panyijiar county, in South Sudan AFP[/caption]
Joan, a village midwife who travelled with the teenager, recounted armed groups coming to rape young girls.
"Ten men can sleep with one woman, no problem if you die," she said. "When you are a woman they rape you and kill you, we are much safer here".
A UN survey found 70% of the women living under the 'protection' of civilian camps in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, had been raped, the vast majority by police or soldiers, while a staggering 80% had been forced to watch someone else being assaulted.
Thousands of refugees are pouring over the border every day into Uganda, where more than 500,000 people have arrived since last July, with almost 90% of them women and children.
It has become Africa’s largest refugee country, seeing more than 1.5 million people flee their homes since the conflict erupted in South Sudan in December 2013.[caption id="attachment_52654" align="aligncenter" width="800"] A boy eats out of a ladle at his home in Ngop in South Sudan's Unity State on March 10, 2017 AFP[/caption]
A report by the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan found that "ethnic cleaning is underway" in South Sudan amid a huge increase in human rights violations and abuses since a fresh wave of violence started in July.
A government redrawing of state borders has depopulated ethnic Shilluk and Nuer inhabitants of the Upper Nile region, with one incident seeing around 2,000 mostly Dinka people transported to Wau Shilluk town after fighting caused its residents to flee.
The UN has warned that the "indicators of genocide are in place", with the conflict acting as a smoke-screen for abuses, mainly committed by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and government security forces, but also by the SPLA Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
The Disasters Emergency Committee is launching an appeal to help 16 million people facing malnutrition and starvation in East Africa, with the British Government matching the first £5 million of donations pound-for-pound.
Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, said UK aid was already funding food, water and emergency healthcare but more support is urgently needed to prevent a "catastrophe".
"The international community must now follow Britain’s lead to save lives and stop the famine before it becomes a stain on our collective conscience," she said. "The world cannot afford to wait".
— ITV News (@itvnews) March 9, 2017