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South Sudan parties far from reaching agreement: UN

May 8, 2018 (NEW YORK) – Parties involved in talks to end the conflict in South Sudan are far from striking an agreement, despite endless effort from the regional bloc (IGAD), Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations said.

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The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix (UN photo)

Addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday, Lacroix said IGAD has tirelessly worked to narrow the gap ahead of talks, but those involved in the high level revitalization forum show less commitment.

“Parties remain far apart on the issues of governance and security,” he said.

The conflict in South Sudan, now in its fifth year, started after a disagreement within the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), before civil war broke out in December 2013.

Tens of thousands of people have died as a result of the war and nearly 4.3 million have been driven from their homes, UN figures show.

The UN peacekeeping chief said both South Sudan government and the armed opposition have continued armed confrontations while a ceasefire accord signed in December last year show little impact.

Lacroix, however, urged the Security Council to use its influence over South Sudan.

“It is in this context that I reiterate that there must be a tangible cost for the continuation of violence in South Sudan,” he said, adding “there must be consequences for blatant violations of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement and broken promises to protect civilians.

The senior UN official, while briefing the council, also expressed concerns over the scale of sexual violence that has been perpetrated, saying reports of rape and gang rape are compounding to the desperate situation for women and girls.

“We must respond and respond quickly to ensure accountability for these violations and abuses and bring an end to these heinous acts once and for all,” emphasized Lacroix.

Also highlighted during the briefing to the Security Council was the problem aid workers face in South Sudan. At least 100 workers, according to the UN, have been killed since mid-December 2013.

Meanwhile, Lacroix urge the Security Council to use its voice to dispel what he said was the “unhealthy” narrative of regime change that some of South Sudan’s leaders would like to use against the UN and the international community in a bid to win popular support.

“This narrative serves no one and only sows seeds of hate and paranoia in a country facing significant challenges, and where localized violence is becoming endemic,” stressed the UN official.

South Sudan has, in the past, accused the UN and other unnamed western powers of advocating for regime change in the East African nation rocked by years of civil war.

(ST)