February 12, 2014 (NEW YORK) - The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, has condemned the use of cluster bombs during fighting in South Sudan, remnants of which were found last week in Jonglei state.
- Cluster bombs scatter over a large area and can kill or maim unsuspecting civilians long after the conflict has ended
In a statement issued from New York On Wednesday, Ban said the discovery was made by a team from the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), on a road from the capital, Juba, to Bor in Jonglei.
No further details were provided on how many bombs were located or their origins.
Cluster bombs eject smaller explosive bomblets over a large area, but many fail to detonate at the time. The bombs are costly to locate and remove and can kill or maim unsuspecting civilians long after the conflict has ended.
The 200km corridor leading from Juba to Bor experienced heavy fighting between government and rebel forces, with Bor changing hands several times at the height of the crisis.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported earlier this month that one of its teams had observed many unexploded ordinances in Unity state’s Mayom county, and that local authorities had requested support from UNMAS in clearing roads.
The secretary-general has expressed deep concern over reports of ongoing fighting and skirmishes in parts of Unity and Upper Nile states.
He called on both sides to honour the terms of a ceasefire agreement signed on 23 January in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa and to fully cooperate with mediators from East African bloc - the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is facilitating negotiations.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general has welcomed the resumption of peace talks on Tuesday in Addis Ababa between the South Sudanese government and rebel forces led by former vice-president Riek Machar.
Ban also reiterated the importance of national political dialogue, with the participation of all South Sudanese political and civil society representatives, including political detainees from the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
“The secretary-general also calls on all parties to respect the lifesaving work and ensure unhindered freedom of movement of the UN Mission in South Sudan and of all humanitarian workers”, the statement said.
Violence first erupted in Juba on 15 December following clashes between rival factions of the presidential guards.
The conflict quickly spread across the country as government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir battled pro-Machar rebels for control of strategic areas.
Both sides have accused each of violating the terms of the ceasefire deal signed last month and there are fears the situation could escalate into a regional conflict.