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UK minister urges S. Sudan’s warring parties to end civil war

July 18, 2018 (JUBA) - The United Kingdom minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin has urged all warring parties in South Sudan to find an urgent solution to the conflict causing extreme suffering across the country.

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The United Kingdom minister for Africa, Harriet Baldwin (Getty)

Baldwin, recently in the war-torn nation, said the UK will not tolerate ongoing human rights abuses happening in the country, and urged South Sudan’s leaders to demonstrate their commitment to peace through abiding by the ceasefire they signed in Khartoum.

“South Sudan’s leaders must demonstrate that they are committed to peace and immediately silence their guns. The UK stands with the people of South Sudan who are suffering the horrific consequences of this man-made crisis,” said Baldwin.

She added, “We will not abandon the people of South Sudan and their hopes for a peaceful future, which is why we’re working to bring stability to the whole region, and provide the next generation with the skills they need to begin to rebuild their country”.

At a meeting with the country’ first vice president, Taban Deng Gai, the senior UK official handed over a copy of a United Nations report on the indiscriminate use of violence against civilians in Unity State.

Baldwin also shared with Gai a UN data, showing declining agricultural outputs across the country, heightening risks of famine.

The ongoing conflict in South Sudan is having a devastating impact on the population with up to seven million people (two thirds of the population) said to be in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and continued obstructions are threatening to prevent lifesaving assistance reaching those most in need, according to aid agencies.

Over the years, various human rights abuses, including shocking levels of sexual and gender-based violence, which is having devastating consequences on the lives of the most vulnerable, have been reported.

The senior UK official, however, welcomed the announcement on Friday of UN sanctions and an arms embargo on South Sudan, saying the decision would help hold the perpetrators accountable.

“The UN sanctions and arms embargo announced last Friday are a strong sign of international support for regional peace talks. I have seen for myself the effects of this devastating conflict,” said the UK official, adding that, “Meaningful progress will only happen if the perpetrators of violence know they will be held to account”.

The UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan to prevent flow of weapons to armed groups in the war-torn nation.

The members who backed the imposition of the ban believe such a move would help protect civilians, while others raised concerns that the policy would hinder the ongoing peace process in the nation.

The UK is one of the top three humanitarian donors in South Sudan, providing lifesaving support to hundreds of thousands of people, and some 340 British military troops providing important engineering and medical assistance to the UN Mission of South Sudan (UNMISS).

UK aid is supporting the continuation of vital health and education services in the country, including supporting the country’s only paediatric hospital, which the UK minister had an opportunity to visit.