August 8, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a presidential statement on Friday expressing concern over the political, security and “humanitarian catastrophe” situation in South Sudan and called on rivals to adhere to terms of accord signed in May.
- A UN Security Council session on New York (UN photo)
“The Security Council strongly condemns the repeated violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement accepted and signed by the Republic of South Sudan and the SPLM/A (in Opposition) on January 23, 2014, and emphasises that the actions of President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar in continuing to pursue a military solution to this conflict are unacceptable,” the statement reads.
The council also urged the two sides “to uphold their commitment to establish a transitional government of national unity by the deadline of 10 August 2014”.
They also blasted reported human rights abuses in the course of the conflict.
“The Security Council strongly condemns reported and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including those involving extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, sexual and gender-based violence, rape, recruitment, and use of children, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detention, violence aimed at spreading terror among the civilian population, and attacks on schools and hospitals as well as United Nations peacekeeping personnel, by all parties, including armed groups and national security forces. The Security Council recalls that such acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity under international law”.
The South Sudanese government and pro-Machar rebel forces have been engaged in a bitter armed struggle since mid-December last year when a political split in the ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) turned violent.
The fifth round of peace talks got underway in Addis Ababa on Monday in a bid to end the conflict in the world’s youngest nation.
Since the conflict in South Sudan erupted in December last year, tens of thousands of people have been killed, while more than 1.5 million people have been displaced from their homes.
International aid organisations have described the humanitarian situation in South Sudan as one of the worst on a global scale, warning of an imminent outbreak of famine if fighting continues.
The UNSC warned that it is prepared, in consultation with IGAD and the African Union (AU) to impose targeted sanctions “against those who take action that undermines the peace, stability, and security of South Sudan, including those who prevent the implementation of these agreements”.