February 18, 2014 (JUBA) – US-based activist John Prendergast, has said the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, which has now claimed thousands of lives and displaced almost a million people, could have been avoided.
- US activist John Prendergast of the Enough Project speaks in Washington at the National Press Club studios on 13 October 2013 (Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
The co-founder of the Enough Project, in a statement, said both sides in the conflict may have committed “war crimes”, stressing that the nature of targeting on the basis of ethnicity has made a resolution of this war much more difficult.
Founded in 2007, the project fights to end genocide and crimes against humanity.
“The level of destruction and loss of life in Bor was indeed catastrophic, and given its history even more heartbreaking for the people there, but there are other areas of the country that have suffered greatly as well,” he said after visiting Bor, the Jonglei state capital.
Prendergast also denied statements on the issue of war attributed to him on a Sudan Tribune story from a meeting held with South Sudanese officials.
"Quotes were attributed to me in this article that I did not make. I gave no interviews with any reporter, and didn’t say what I was alleged to have said in the meeting with government officials. Let me clarify that I believe war crimes appear to have been committed by both sides in this conflict, and the nature of targeting on the basis of ethnicity has made a resolution of this war much more difficult.
Violence broke out in the South Sudan capital, Juba in mid-December last year and later spread to three of its 10 states as forces loyal to President Salva Kiir battled anti-government elements linked to the country’s former vice-president, Riek Machar.
Describing the losses resulting from the conflict as “tragic”, Prendergast expressed the urgency for the two warring parties to resolve the conflict through negotiations, not on the battlefield.
“That requires leadership, which South Sudan requires more than ever”, stressed the US activist who held meetings with the commanding officer of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) in the area. He also visited civilians displaced at the United Nations mission site in Bor, massacres sites like church compound and Bor hospital, including the location of the mass graves.
Prendergast and fellow US actor George Clooney also helped direct Sudan Now, a 2011 campaign for the peaceful conduct of a referendum in South Sudan, in which its citizens overwhelmingly chose separation from Sudan.