August 1, 2016 (JUBA) – The United Nations has expressed concerns over the renewed clashes between South Sudan’s warring factions in the Equatorian and parts of Upper Nile areas, saying these continued actions are in violation of the peace agreement, which the country’s main rivals and other parties signed in August last year.
- Soldiers from the South Sudanese army (SPLA) jump off the back of a truck while on patrol in the capital, Juba, following the December 2013 outbreak of violence (Photo: Reuters)
“The UNMISS [UN mission in South Sudan] calls on all parties to return to their bases and allow the movement of humanitarian aid to affected areas,” it said in a statement.
According to the world body, tensions persisted in the capital, Juba, but no firearms were found in a search operation conducted at its protection of civilian site over the weekend.
Meanwhile, the United States has warned those taking actions threatening the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan, and those responsible for attacks on civilians or United Nations premises, saying they may be subjected to sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 2206 (2015).
The US, in a statement issued Saturday, also condemned in the “strongest” terms the continued fighting in Equatorian region and other areas of South Sudan in recent days.
“We call for an immediate halt to combat operations and full compliance with the ceasefire declared on July 11 and in the peace agreement,” said Mark Toner, the deputy spokesperson of the Department of State.
The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and the African Union issued similar concerns on the matter.
According to the U.S, the “short-sighted” actions of South Sudan’s leaders in recent weeks have exacerbated an already intolerable humanitarian crisis as large portions of the country are facing emergency levels of food insecurity.
“The people of South Sudan should have the opportunity to build their country and pursue their aspirations in peace,” said Toner, further adding, “Instead they are facing the further untold suffering of continued conflict”.
A recent report from the UN gave horrific accounts of civilian killings and a rise in the number of government soldiers in uniform raping and gang raping women and girls who have taken refuge in UN protection of civilian sites.
The world body, for instance, documented about120 cases of sexual violence in South Sudan in the last two weeks.
“Those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international humanitarian law - including those who order or incite violence, or encourage or contribute to the commission of crimes - will be held accountable,” said Toner.
Washington, in a statement, also reminded all parties that the peace agreement provides that the Hybrid Court for South Sudan will have jurisdiction over violations of international law committed during the transitional period, including those committed during the ongoing violence.
Last month, skirmishes between force loyal to President Salva Kiir and those allied to ex-rebel leader Riek Machar in the capital, Juba left over 270 soldiers dead.
The recent wave of violence, the UN says, has displaced over 40,000 civilians.