April 29, 2014 (JUBA) – The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, has demanded an immediate halt to the vicious fighting and “appalling” killing of civilians in South Sudan.
- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Sudan’s Vice-President Salva Kiir speak to the media in Juba (File/AFP)
In a telephone interview with South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, on Tuesday Ban stressed the need to ensure that the perpetrators of the “completely unacceptable” attack on its mission compound in Bor and the “ethnically” motivated killings in Bentiu are swiftly brought to justice.
He urged the South Sudanese leader to intervene personally to stop the negative campaign against UN mission staff and issue a public statement to this end.
Last week, the world body said more than 200 people died in the Unity state capital after the town fell to armed opposition forces. Also with thousands fleeing to the UN base, their numbers reportedly swelled from 6,000 people to more than 22,000.
The violence has displaced more than a million South Sudanese since it broke out in mid-December last year, with thousands seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
Ban also welcomed the pardoning of the country’s political detainees and hoped that their freedom would positively impact on the ongoing peace talks led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The government last week dropped treason charges against its four senior politicians detained in connection with an alleged coup attempt in the country late last year.
Justice minister Paulino Wanawilla Unango said the government took the surprise decision against the detainees for “the sake of peace and reconciliation”.
DIRE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
Meanwhile, the the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has expressed concerned about terrified South Sudanese civilians who had been left without basic household items because they had been forced to flee violence, often more than once.
“This left them exposed to the elements without the ability to keep warm, cook or maintain basic standards of hygiene. In total, 923,000 South Sudanese were displaced within their own country,” said UNHCR’s Lejeune-Kaba.
“These people were spread across some 174 spontaneous and organized sites, with the highest increase having been in Upper Nile state,” the official added.
UNHCR says more than 293,000 people had become refugees in neighbouring countries since December, while some 4.9 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.