February 11, 2017 (JUBA) - The United Nations Security Council has again condemned in the “ strongest terms” the continued fighting in the Equatoria and Upper Nile regions of the South Sudan and warned that attacks on civilians could renew calls for sanctions.
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Members of the 15-member Council, in a statement, called on all parties involved in the conflict to cease hostilities immediately.
According to the Council, there are reports of killing of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of homes, ethnic violence, and looting of livestock and property during the fighting.
The members of the Security Council reiterated that targeting civilians may constitute war crimes and those involved could be subject to sanctions as authorized under resolution 2206 (2015) for actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan.
“The members of the Security Council urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to take measures to ensure that those responsible for the attacks are held accountable,” the statement noted.
More than 84,000, according to the U.N have fled South Sudan since beginning of January and many continue to be displaced internally.
In its statement, members of the Security Council stressed the primacy of the political process and that there is no military solution to the conflict and reminded all parties in South Sudan that implementation of the ceasefire is critical for the success of any genuine, inclusive political process, including national dialogue, and that such a process should be based on the framework provided by the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (the Agreement) and aimed at achieving national reconciliation and enhancing trust among parties in South Sudan.
They reiterated their call on all stakeholders to commit to full implementation of the accord on resolution of the South Sudan crisis.
However, while the Security Council expressed appreciation for its South Sudan mission’s (UNMISS) tenacity in its efforts to carry out its protection of civilians mandate, it also expressed deep concern that UNMISS continues to face obstacles from the Transitional Government of National Unity hindering the ability of UNMISS to carry out its mandate to protect civilians and create conditions conducive to delivery of humanitarian assistance.
ARMY DISMISSES ACCUSATIONS
Meanwhile, South Sudanese army (SPLA) dismissed accusations that it denied UNMISS patrol team access to civilians displaced in the various parts of the country.
“No mere notification or request was submitted to SPLA GHQs. SPLA challenges UNMISS to produce evidence indicating it was denied access for us to take responsibility and administrative measures against those involved in alleged blockade,” said SPLA spokesperson, Lul Ruai Koang.
The official also dismissed accusations of rapes, looting of livestock and destruction of property, and challenged UNMISS to produce concrete evidence so that the army leadership can take punitive measures on the culprits.
He reiterated the army’s commitment to fight impunity, willingness and readiness to keep working and cooperating with all U.N bodies and other monitoring mechanisms.