December 24, 2013 (JUBA) – The United Nations secretary general has expressed concerns over reports of ethnically targeted violence, including extra-judicial killings and mass graves in South Sudan.
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and President Salva Kiir speak to the media in Juba (File/AFP)
Addressing the Security Council on the crisis in the country, Ban Ki Moon reiterated calls for maximum restraint from all communities involved, as the violence enters its second week.
“There is no military solution to this conflict. This is a political crisis which requires a peaceful, political solution,” he said.
Over 500 people, official said, have been killed after clashes occurred in the South Sudan capital, Juba with tens of thousands displaced seeking protection at UN bases in the country.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir largely blamed his former deputy Riek Machar of instigating the violence, but the latter claimed it was a ploy by the leadership to oppress those opposed to the regime.
The UN chief, however, said they were closely working with regional leaders and parties on the ground to establish basis for negotiations.
“At the same time, I am determined to ensure that UNMISS [UN Mission in South Sudan] has the means to carry out its central task of protecting civilians”, Ban Ki Moon said in a statement.
He further welcomed the UNSC resolution, calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities and opening of dialogue; demanding that all parties cooperate fully with UNMISS; and authorising the temporary strengthening of protection capacities with additional troops, police and logistical assets from other UN missions.
Ki Moon, in the statement, also lauded UN peacekeepers for their role in protecting civilians, provision of humanitarian assistance and human rights monitoring, despite the difficult circumstances.
Two Indian peacekeepers were killed and three UNIMISS personnel injured when anti-governmental forces attacked a UN base in Bor.
“Attacks on civilians and the UN peacekeepers must cease immediately”, he further stressed.
The UN, its secretary general said, would investigate reports of these incidents and of grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity, saying those responsible will be personally accountable.
“They should know the world is watching”, he stressed.
The Security Council on Tuesday unanimously voted for an increase of its peacekeepers in South Sudan from 7,000 to 12,500 troops, including 1,323 police in order to protect civilians in the country.