South Sudan

Security Council Condemns Fighting in South Sudan, 10 February 2017

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned continued fighting across South Sudan, particularly incidents in the Equatoria and Upper Nile regions of South Sudan and called on all parties to cease hostilities immediately.  The members of the Security Council also condemned in the strongest terms all attacks directed against civilians and expressed serious concern that, once again, there are reports of killing of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, destruction of homes, ethnic violence, and looting of livestock and property.  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.  They expressed deep alarm that more than 84,000 individuals have fled South Sudan since the beginning of January and that many continue to be displaced internally.

The 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 the trust among parties in South Sudan.  They reiterated their call on all stakeholders to commit to full implementation of the Agreement.

In this regard, they welcomed the continued and collective commitment in the search for lasting peace, security and stability expressed by the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the United Nations (UN) during the joint consultative meeting on South Sudan in Addis Ababa on January 29, 2017.  The members of the Security Council committed to work closely with IGAD, the AU High Representative for South Sudan former President Alpha Oumar Konare, the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission former President Festus Mogae, and the UN Secretary-General in support of the South Sudan peace process.

The members of the Security Council expressed appreciation for UNMISS’s tenacity in its efforts to carry out its protection of civilians mandate and 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.  The members of the Security Council reminded the Transitional Government of National Unity of its commitment in the September 4, 2016, Joint Communique to permit freedom of movement of UNMISS and expressed deep disappointment that the Transitional Government of National Unity continues to act inconsistently with this commitment and its obligations under the Status of Forces Agreement with the United Nations.

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.

 

Joint Press Statement by the AU, IGAD and the UN

Consultations on South Sudan, January 29, 2017

 The African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the United Nations (UN) held a joint consultative meeting on South Sudan on January 29, 2017 on the margins of the African Union 28th Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa.

The meeting, chaired by H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Chairperson of IGAD, was also attended by H.E. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission; and Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. The AU High Representative for South Sudan, former President Alpha Oumar Konare, and the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), former President Festus Mogae briefed the meeting.

Also in attendance, were the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, the Executive Secretary of IGAD, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, and other senior officials of the three organizations.

The AU, IGAD and UN, expressed their deep concerns over the continuing spread of fighting, and risk of inter-communal violence escalating into mass atrocities, and the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan. The AU, IGAD and UN reaffirmed their continued and collective commitment in the search for lasting peace, security and stability in the country. They further stated that there can only be a political solution to the conflict, within the framework of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS). The AU, IGAD and UN reiterated their call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urged the parties to ensure inclusivity of the political process, both in the proposed National Dialogue and in the implementation of the ARCSS.

The AU, IGAD and UN commended the important work performed by the JMEC Chairperson and encouraged the AU High Representative for South Sudan to undertake active shuttle diplomacy towards ensuring the inclusivity of the National Dialogue and the ARCSS implementation, in close consultation with the JMEC Chairperson, the UN and IGAD. The AU, IGAD and the UN reaffirmed their commitment and determination to further enhance their cooperation in support of the South Sudan peace process.

 

Security Council Press Statement on the Ethnic Violence and the Situation in South Sudan, 18 November 2016

The members of the Security Council were briefed by the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ellen Løj, the United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng, and the Chair of the South Sudan sanctions committee on the situation in South Sudan.

The members of the Security Council expressed deep alarm ‎over the escalation of ethnic violence in South Sudan reportedly carried out by the SPLA, the SPLA in Opposition, as well as militias, and unidentified armed groups.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned all instances of attacks against civilians, ethnically targeted killings, hate speech, and incitements to violence.  The members of the Security Council agreed with Special Advisor Adama Dieng that what began as a political conflict has transformed into what could become an outright ethnic war, and it called on the Government of South Sudan to immediately address increasing hate speech and ethnic violence, and to promote reconciliation among its people, including through a process of justice and accountability.

The members of the Security Council underscored that the only way forward in South Sudan is through a genuine and inclusive political process, based on the framework provided by the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan which allows for all voices to participate in shaping the future of South Sudan.  The members of the Security Council also underscored that all parties must commit themselves to peace and take meaningful steps to end violence and ceasefire violations.   The members of the Security Council called upon the parties to immediately agree on implementation of an effective cessation of hostilities in order to avoid escalation of the conflict in the upcoming dry season and reiterated that there is no military solution to the conflict.

While recalling Resolution 2304 (2016), the members of the Security Council expressed concern that while the Government of South Sudan has made further commitments since the 4 September 2016 Joint Communique with the Security Council, that progress was insufficient and has yet to translate into concrete improvements on the ground.   They called on the Government of South Sudan to immediately uphold its commitments.

The members of the Security Council signaled their readiness to consider taking additional measures in order to prevent a further escalation of violence and conflict, including potential sanctions that may be appropriate to respond to the situation.

The members of the Security Council committed to work closely with the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, former President Alpha Oumar Konaré, the Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission former President Festus Mogae, as well as other stakeholders, in the reinvigoration of the political process and the design of a clear political strategy for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan.

THE DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL’S OPENING REMARKS AT THE SOUTH SUDAN SIDE EVENT, New York, 23 September 2016

We are here to support and consolidate peace in South Sudan.

We know that South Sudan is a long way from resolving its many challenges and problems.
When President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar came together in April to inaugurate the Transitional Government of National Unity, there was a sense of hope.  But that hope was lost with the resumption of violence in Juba in July, followed by the collapse of the security arrangements and power-sharing provisions of the peace agreement. Fighting has now ceased in Juba.  President Kiir has publicly committed to take forward the transition and implement the peace agreement.

Yet a number of factors are fuelling discontent and violence, including inter-communal violence across parts of the country.  These include the marginalisation of Riek Machar and his supporters, the side-lining of other opposition groups, both armed and unarmed, and the continued implementation of the 28-States order. As the guarantors of South Sudan’s peace agreement, we must act collectively and urgently to facilitate an inclusive and credible political transition. This will help stabilize the security situation in the country, including through the full implementation of the permanent ceasefire.

To turn a blind eye would be irresponsible. It would increase the likelihood of territorial fragmentation and risk undermining the country’s fragile social cohesion.
The United Nations pledges to support the peace agreement and deliver on its mandate to protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance. But it is essential that South Sudan’s leaders commit to an inclusive political transition.

I know many of you are engaged in discussions amongst yourselves and with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations to expedite the deployment of the regional protection force proposed by IGAD and authorised by Security Council Resolution 2304. The regional protection force is an important enabler of the political process.  However I propose that our discussion this afternoon focus on the strategic objectives that we are trying to achieve.

I see five benchmarks, five requirements as crucial to placing South Sudan on the path to peace, development and a life in dignity for its people.

First: the inclusion of representatives of the opposition, chosen by the opposition, in all key institutions of the Transition, in accordance with the peace agreement.

Second: the launching this year of a national, constitutional review process based on extensive popular consultations.  This process should establish a system of governance which ensures respect for ethnic and regional diversity in all states and determines boundaries through consensus.  In the meantime, the implementation of the 28-States order should be put on hold, as recommended by IGAD.
Third: the establishment of a competent and impartial National Elections Commission to ensure respect for international electoral standards, as a condition for UN, AU and IGAD support to the elections.

Fourth: the establishment and operationalization of the Hybrid Court by the African Union and start of a credible and independent truth, reconciliation and healing process before the end of 2016.
Fifth: the establishment this year of a credible, multi-stakeholder Strategic Defence and Security Review board to lead Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) efforts, including by building police capacities.

I thank you for your commitment to restoring full peace in South Sudan.

I now invite you to share your thoughts on how we can work together to achieve progress in the key areas I have highlighted. I hope that at the end of this meeting, Presidents Mogae and Konare will have the political backing that they need to secure the agreement of the South Sudanese parties to inclusive representation in the peace process and its core institutions.
I first give the floor to President Mogae and then President Konare for brief remarks.
Thank you.

Note to Correspondents – Chairperson’s Summary

Ministerial meeting on South Sudan

23 September 2016

At the initiative of the United Nations, core regional and international partners of the South Sudan peace process met on September 23, 2016, on the margins of the General Debate of the seventy-first session of the United Nations General Assembly, to exchange views on how best to advance the political process and create the required political conditions for the successful implementation of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) mandate. The meeting was hosted by the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Jan Eliasson, and co-facilitated with H.E. Mr. Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana and the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and H.E. Mr. Alpha Oumar Konaré, former President of the Republic of Mali and the African Union High-Representative on South Sudan.

The meeting was attended by senior representatives from the Governments of the People’s Republic of China, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Kenya, the Kingdom of Norway, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of Sudan, the Republic of Uganda, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America, the African Union Commission, the Intergovernmental Authority  on Development (IGAD), the European Union, and other United Nations senior officials.

Participants discussed the current challenges associated with the South Sudan peace process. In this respect, they expressed great concern about the current political and security trends and the deteriorating humanitarian and protection environment in the country. They were unanimous in their alarm over the unspeakable toll the current conflict has taken on civilians, with more than 6.1 million people – one half of the South Sudanese population – in need of humanitarian assistance and the continuation of abominable human rights violations, including on ethnic grounds.

Participants unanimously agreed on the imperative of an inclusive political process, involving representatives of the SPLM, the SPLM in Opposition (chosen by the opposition), as well as other armed, unarmed opposition and civil society organizations consistent with the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. They underlined that only such an inclusive process could provide a credible incentive to end the fighting and bring South Sudan back to a path of peace and stability.

Accordingly, participants encouraged President Mogae and President Konaré to urgently enhance  their engagement with the South Sudanese parties to agree on concrete modalities to ensure inclusive representation in the different institutions and political processes at the heart of the South Sudan peace process, namely the Constitutional review process, electoral process, justice, reconciliation and national healing processes, as well as security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. They called on all signatories of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan to engage constructively and productively with President Mogae, President Konaré and the United Nations to support the implementation of the Agreement, and highlighted the vital role of the IGAD region in bringing peace and stability to South Sudan.

Participants urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to cooperate fully and without further delay with the deployment of the UNMISS Regional Protection Force (RPF), as a key operational enabler to this process, and agreed that continued impediments to UNMISS freedom of movement are not acceptable and must end. They welcomed the steps taken by the Secretariat to expedite the deployment of the RPF and encouraged it to continue its efforts.

Participants noted the centrality of justice, reconciliation and accountability for the peace process and urged the African Union to move forward with the establishment of the Hybrid Court as agreed to by the parties and the guarantors of the agreement.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS TO HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN SOUTH SUDAN, New York, 22 September 2016

Thank you for being here today to discuss the critical situation in South Sudan.

For years, South Sudan struggled to gain their independence. Now it is struggling for survival.
Rarely have such high hopes been squandered so quickly. Time and again, the country’s leaders have resorted to weapons and identity politics to resolve their differences. The children, women and men of South Sudan are paying with their lives. Violent attacks have killed tens of thousands of people and forced some 2.6 million to flee their homes. This includes more than one million people who have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. Six million people are in need of aid – half of the population.

One million children are missing out on education because their schools have been destroyed, damaged, occupied or closed. 4.8 million people are facing severe food shortages. Earlier this year, I saw for myself the fear and despair of some of the 200,000 men, women, boys and girls who are sheltering in UN protection sites. Hundreds of thousands of others are destitute, roaming the bush, or sheltering with extended family, friends or strangers.

Unbelievably, the situation has deteriorated since my visit in February. Violence has erupted again in many parts of the country, forcing people from their homes.  Rape is being perpetrated on a mass scale. Over a two-week period in July, at least 217 cases of sexual violence were documented in Juba alone. Sixty-three aid workers have been killed since the beginning of the crisis.  Many others have been harassed, abused, detained and arrested. In one heinous attack on the Terrain Hotel in July, a humanitarian worker was killed and others were raped, sexually assaulted and beaten.  I have launched a special investigation into the response by United Nations peacekeeping troops to the violence in July. But the full responsibility for these crimes lies with the perpetrators.

Humanitarian agencies have provided life-saving assistance and protection to more than 3 million people so far this year, despite the difficulties.But they now face a severe funding shortage. The South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan is only 54 per cent funded, leaving a shortfall of nearly $700 million. We have received less than 20 per cent of the $702 million we need to support South Sudanese refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries.
Humanitarians can only fulfil their mandate if parties to the conflict respect their independence, and if donors step up their support.

There is no military solution to this conflict. Only greater misery and suffering for the many, at the hands of the few. I urge everyone in this room with influence to use every opportunity to exert pressure on the parties and their leaders to reverse the slide into deeper violence and more desperate need. The parties must uphold the peace agreement they signed more than a year ago, and move towards rebuilding this fractured young nation.

In the meantime, we cannot stand by as the people of South Sudan suffer.

Thank you for your support and commitment. Thank you very much.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Sudan, New York, 17 August 2016

The Secretary-General is disappointed that the Sudanese parties failed to reach an agreement on a cessation of hostilities in Darfur and the Two Areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan States, during the last round of negotiations from 9 to 14 August 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The Secretary-General strongly urges all the parties to resume negotiations, abide by the Roadmap Agreement, and refrain from any attempt to escalate the conflict in Darfur and the Two Areas.

He reiterates that there can be no lasting alternative to a negotiated settlement and stresses that a cessation of hostilities is the first, indispensable step towards achieving this goal.

The Secretary-General appreciates the vital role played by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and his Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan to bring about a lasting peace in Sudan.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on South Sudan,  New York, 16 August 2016

The Secretary-General is alarmed by the preliminary findings of a fact finding investigation by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) into the attack on Hotel Terrain in Juba on 11 July, in which one person was killed and several civilians were raped and brutally beaten by men in uniform.

The Secretary-General is also concerned about allegations that UNMISS did not respond appropriately to prevent this and other grave cases of sexual violence committed in Juba. Due to the gravity of these incidents, related allegations and the preliminary findings by UNMISS, the Secretary-General has decided to launch an independent special investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding these incidents and to evaluate the Mission’s overall response.
The Secretary-General reiterates his outrage over the acts of violence committed by the SPLA and opposition forces in Juba from 8 to 11 July, during which many South Sudanese civilians and two UN peacekeepers were killed.

The Secretary-General urges, once more, the Government of South Sudan to investigate these human right violations and to prosecute those involved in these unspeakable acts of violence.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on South Sudan, New York, 7 August 2016

The Secretary-General welcomes the communique of the Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus countries. He commends the IGAD leaders for their decisive action and welcomes the Government of South Sudan’s acceptance of a regional protection force.  He calls on all South Sudanese leaders to set aside their personal differences and demonstrate their commitment to the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, which remains the only viable path to ending the crisis.

The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the continued fighting in the country and calls for an immediate end to the hostilities. He is outraged by the continued reports of serious human rights violations and abuses, including widespread sexual violence against women and young girls, committed by armed men in uniform. He calls on all parties to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians and demands that they take immediate steps to hold accountable those responsible for these despicable crimes.

The Secretary-General reiterates his commitment to work with all South Sudanese, IGAD, the African Union and international partners, to implement the recommendations of today’s summit.

 

NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS
Statement by Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide on the situation in South Sudan

New York, 11 July 2016 – The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed his deep concern at the threat to the populations of South Sudan posed by the renewed fighting of the last few days between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar.

“Several hundred people have already been killed, including civilians seeking refuge. Some of the civilians killed were reportedly targeted based on their ethnicity. I echo the words of the Secretary-General, who called on President Kiir and First Vice-President Machar to do everything in their power to de-escalate hostilities immediately and ensure the withdrawal of their forces to their bases. If they fail to do so, South Sudan could be plunged back into civil war, at unimaginable human cost.”   Special Adviser Dieng reminded the Transitional Government of National Unity of its responsibility to protect its populations, irrespective of their ethnicity or political affiliation

He also stressed the urgent need to end impunity in South Sudan and bring to justice all those responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.  Special Adviser Dieng called on the Transitional Government to implement Chapter V of the 2015 Peace Agreement, in which the signatories agreed to establish a hybrid court to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as well as other serious crimes under international law, and a commission for truth, healing and reconciliation. “It would be a mistake to think that peace, reconciliation and national healing can be achieved in South Sudan without any accountability for the crimes committed”, he commented. “Amnesty is not an option. Those who oppose accountability could be seen as abetting the atrocities committed in South Sudan by protecting the perpetrators.”

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL PRESS ENCOUNTER ON SOUTH SUDAN, New York, 11 July 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to say a few words about the unfolding crisis in South Sudan.

The renewed fighting is outrageous.  It is yet another grievous setback.  It deepens the country’s suffering.  It makes a mockery of commitments to peace. Many people have been killed in heavy fighting. There are growing fears that many more could die in another round of violence.

Let me start by expressing my deep condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who have been killed in the fighting that has consumed Juba over the past four days.  I condemn the killing of two Chinese peacekeepers and one UN national staff. I am appalled by these indiscriminate attacks on civilians and peacekeepers. The two UNMISS compounds in Juba have been caught in the cross-fire and sustained mortar and heavy artillery fire. At least two internally displaced persons have been killed in the UNMISS protection of civilians sites, and some 35 injured. Thousands of civilians have fled to various locations in town, including the two UNMISS compounds. Yet again, the leaders of South Sudan have failed their people.  Rarely has a country squandered so much promise, so quickly.  What kind of leadership is it that resorts to deadly weapons and identity politics, time and again?  Failed leadership.

My message to President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar is clear: do everything in your power to de-escalate the hostilities immediately.  Order your respective forces to withdraw to their bases.

Let me underscore, again, to all those leading and perpetrating these hostilities that acts of violence perpetrated against civilians and United Nations and humanitarian personnel, assets and premises may constitute a war crime.

There must and will be accountability for the atrocities that have been committed in South Sudan since 2013.  It is not just leaders who must face a reckoning, but all those in the chain of command, including chiefs of staff and other officials complicit in the violence.
The international community, through its wide-ranging security, legal and human rights mechanisms, will be carefully monitoring developments in the coming days precisely in order to be able to identify on whom the burden of accountability for war crimes should ultimately be placed.

While I understand that President Kiir reportedly issued an order to the SPLA last night to stop fighting, hostilities continue today and have spread to parts outside of Juba in Central Equatoria.

UNMISS is doing all it can to contain a very volatile situation. Our peacekeepers maintain a proactive posture, conducting patrols within and immediately outside the protection of civilians sites. It has reinforced perimeter security to enhance protection for IDPs and UN staff at its two compounds.

However, freedom of movement and access outside of the UN compounds remains a challenge. I demand all the belligerent parties to guarantee unfettered access and freedom of movement to United Nations and humanitarian personnel engaged in life-saving activities in aid of the South Sudanese people.

I welcome last night’s statement by the Security Council.  The gravity of the situation demands a rapid response.  Today, I urge the Council to take action on three fronts:
First, impose an immediate arms embargo on South Sudan.
Second, enact additional targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking the implementation of the Agreement.
Third, fortify the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS.  We desperately need attack helicopters and other material to fulfil our mandate to protect civilians.

I also urge all countries contributing to UNMISS to stand their ground.  Any withdrawals would send precisely the wrong signal, in South Sudan and across the world.

I am consulting with my team and concerned organizations for me, myself, to participate in the African Union summit to consult with the Heads of State of IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and the region on how to restore and better secure the peace process and report to the Security Council within a week. As you know, I am meeting with the Security Council tomorrow afternoon.

This is the time to massively reinforce UN action.  When a Government cannot or will not protect its people, and when warring parties seem more intent on enriching and empowering themselves at the expense of their people, the international community has a responsibility to act.

I call on the Security Council and the entire membership of the United Nations to rise to this moment and protect the human rights of South Sudanese.

I thank you.

Q: Secretary-General, thanks very much indeed. Having described the failed leadership as you have, do you now believe it is time for President Kiir and Vice President Machar to step aside?  And having called for the arms embargo, what is your message to countries like Russia and China that have opposed the institution of an arms embargo in the past?

SG: The first part of the question is not for the United Nations Secretary-General to comment. It is for the people of South Sudan.  President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar were elected by their own people. But they have a huge moral and political responsibility to keep their country in order. They even cancelled their fifth anniversary of independence celebration. I still remember how people were excited and proud on 9 July 2011, when I myself participated in the historic independence ceremony. And in that year, we saw proudly the South Sudanese flag flying, having been admitted to the United Nations. During the last five years, they have not been able to manage and put their new independent country in order, against the will and support and wishes of the international community who strongly supported their independence.

Now, for the Security Council, as I just said, the Security Council for some time has been discussing the idea of imposing an arms embargo, but they have not been able to agree. I sincerely hope that, as I said again this morning, I am urging the Security to take immediate action to impose sanctions on South Sudan.

Q: [inaudible]
SG: Arms embargo sanctions. Arms embargo.

Q: Secretary-General, you have called for the Mission to be reinforced. Are you calling for a specific number of additional troops to be sent? Where will those troops come from, and what do you expect them to be able to do, given that it is our understanding that the troops on the ground have been restricted to their bases?

SG: We have around 12,000 peacekeepers, including police. The question is that our movement of troops, particularly in time of emergency and urgency and danger, has been restricted by the Government. That is why I am urging the South Sudanese Government to allow the normal operation of our peacekeepers – UNMISS – the United Nations Mission and all other diplomatic missions there. There are many roadblocks and safety checks which do not allow movement. The airport is also restricted. It is not operational now. That really makes it very difficult for us to operate, to provide humanitarian assistance and also to take care of wounded civilians and soldiers. Therefore, I am urging the South Sudanese Government to ease all these restrictions immediately so that the UN peacekeeping mission can freely move around. As for the specific number of reinforcements, or any other issues, I will have an opportunity of engaging with the Security Council members tomorrow afternoon. The South Sudan situation is a top priority on the agenda.

Statement by the Secretary-General on South Sudan, New York, 10 July 2016

I am shocked and appalled by the heavy fighting that is currently taking place in Juba. I strongly urge President Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar to do everything within their power to de-escalate the hostilities immediately and to order their respective forces to disengage and withdraw to their bases. This senseless violence is unacceptable and has the potential of reversing the progress made so far in the peace process.

United Nations compounds and protection of civilians sites in Juba have been caught in the cross-fire. I am deeply frustrated that despite commitments by South Sudan’s leaders, fighting has resumed. They must take decisive action to regain control of the security situation in Juba; prevent the spread of violence to other parts of the country; guarantee the safety and security of civilians, United Nations and other personnel; and genuinely commit themselves to the full implementation of the peace agreement.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan continues to protect displaced civilians and engage all stakeholders in order to end the fighting and restore security.

Security Council Press Statement on Escalation of Fighting in Juba, South Sudan,

10 July 2016

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the escalation of fighting in Juba, South Sudan that started on July 7. The members of the Security Council expressed particular shock and outrage at the attacks on UN compounds and protection of civilians sites in Juba. The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms all attacks and provocations against civilians and the United Nations.  They emphasized the need for United Nations protection of civilians sites and United Nations personnel to remain secure.  They expressed their sympathies and condolences to the families of Chinese and Rwandan peacekeepers who were killed or injured in the attacks.

The members of the Security Council urged an immediate end to the fighting by all concerned and demanded that President Kiir and First Vice President Machar do their utmost to control their respective forces, urgently end the fighting and prevent the spread of violence, and genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba.

The members of the Security Council reminded all parties, including government security forces, of the civilian character of the protection of civilian sites in South Sudan. The members of the Security Council stressed that attacks against civilians and UN premises and personnel may constitute war crimes, and they emphasized the importance of transparent investigations into these crimes and that those involved must be held accountable and could be potentially 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 encouraged countries in the region, the African Union Peace and Security Council and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, to continue firmly engaging with South Sudanese leaders to address the crisis.

The members of the Security Council expressed their support for the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).  The members of the Security Council expressed their readiness to consider enhancing UNMISS to better ensure that UNMISS and the international community can prevent and respond to violence in South Sudan. The members of the Security Council encouraged states in the region to prepare to provide additional troops in the event the Council so decides. In the interim, the members of the Security Council stressed the need for UNMISS to make full use of its authority to use all necessary means to protect civilians.

Security Council Press Statement on Fighting in Juba, South Sudan, 9 July 2016

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the fighting in Juba, South Sudan between soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition July 7-8.   The members of the Council further strongly condemned the separate attacks on UN and diplomatic officials that took place in Juba on July 7.  The members of the Security Council acknowledged the formation of an investigation committee and urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to quickly investigate these attacks, take steps to end the fighting, reduce tensions, and hold those responsible for the attacks to account.

The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of members of military forces being held accountable for their actions and emphasized the importance of command and control.  The members of the Security Council called on the SPLA, the SPLA in Opposition and all other armed actors to cease hostilities and to allow the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) and humanitarian actors access to civilians in need.

The members of the Security Council expressed deep concern over the parties’ lack of serious commitment to implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (Agreement) and called upon the parties to work together in the Transitional Government of National Unity to resolve their differences in the spirit of cooperation, and in this regard, welcomed the joint statement made by the President, First Vice President, and Vice President appealing for calm. The members of the Security Council demanded the parties expedite implementation of all aspects of the Agreement, including key provisions on transitional security arrangements, as a means to restoring peace in South Sudan.

The members of the Security Council underscored that actions that have the effect of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan, including breaches of the Agreement, may give arise to additional measures as described in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2280 (2016).

The members of the Security Council expressed appreciation to UNMISS and its efforts to carry out its protection of civilians mandate.  While the members of the Security Council underscored the importance of the role of UNMISS in the protection of civilians, the primary responsibility for protection of civilians in South Sudan remains with the Transitional Government of National Unity.

On the fifth anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, the members of the Security Council urged South Sudan’s leaders to demonstrate leadership that will bring lasting peace and security to South Sudan. The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their unwavering support for the people of South Sudan.

 

Statement by the Secretary-General on South Sudan, New York, 8 July 2016

I am deeply alarmed by the ongoing fighting in Juba between soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition. This outbreak of hostilities in the capital, on the eve of the country’s fifth anniversary of independence, is yet another illustration of the parties’ lack of serious commitment to the peace process and represents a new betrayal of the people of South Sudan, who have suffered from unfathomable atrocities since December 2013.

I am also gravely concerned by the resurgence of violence in Wau and Bentiu, which could lead to a dramatic deterioration of the security situation across the country. I demand that international humanitarian law be respected and also that unfettered access to those in need by United Nations and humanitarian partners be ensured. I strongly condemn attacks on United Nations and humanitarian operations, the latest of which was on a senior UN agency official in the capital last night. I urge President Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar to put an immediate end to the ongoing fighting, discipline the military leaders responsible for the violence and finally work together as partners to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan.

The United Nations remains committed to working with all South Sudanese, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the African Union and international and regional partners, to support the return of the country to peace and stability.

 

Security Council Press Statement on Fighting in Wau, South Sudan, New York, 1 July 2016

The members of the Security Council expressed deep alarm at the fighting in Wau, South Sudan which broke out on June 24 and has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 70,000 people, including 12,000 sheltering near the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Wau.

The members of the Security Council called on all armed actors immediately to cease hostilities and allow UNMISS and humanitarian access to civilians in need, including a school where 9,000 civilians are reportedly sheltering.  The members of the Security Council acknowledged the formation of the investigation committee by the Transitional Government of National Unity and urged the Transitional Government of National Unity to quickly investigate the attack and hold those responsible to account.

The members of the Security Council expressed deep concern over the ongoing violence throughout the country and demanded that the parties to the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan expedite implementation of all aspects of the Agreement as a means to restoring peace in South Sudan.

The members of the Security Council reiterated that attacks against civilians may constitute war crimes and those involved could be potentially 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 expressed appreciation for UNMISS’s efforts to carry out its protection of civilians mandate.  While the members of the Security Council underscored the importance of the role of UNMISS in the protection of civilians, the primary responsibility for protection of civilians in South Sudan remains with the Transitional Government of National Unity.

Statement attributable to the Spokesman of the Secretary-General on South Sudan, New York, 25 June 2016

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the current escalation of violence between the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) and armed groups, in Wau town and surrounding areas, in South Sudan. He regrets the reported loss of lives.

The Secretary-General calls on all fighting forces to immediately suspend the hostilities, provide access to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and cooperate with humanitarian partners to facilitate the delivery of  assistance. He urges all parties to agree to dialogue to resolve their political disputes. The Secretary-General commends UNMISS and the Humanitarian Country Team for taking pro-active steps to protect fleeing civilians outside their base in Wau. UNMISS is in the process of deploying additional capabilities to the area to be able to address possible contingencies.

Note to correspondents on the Special Investigation and UNHQ Board of Inquiry into the violence in the UNMISS Protection of Civilians site in February 2016, New York, 21 June 2016

In answer to earlier questions, the Spokesman can say the following:-

A Special Investigation and a UN Headquarters Board of Inquiry were convened to review the circumstances of the violence that erupted in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilians (PoC) site in Malakal from 17 to 18 February. During the incident, at least 30 Internally Displaced Persons were killed and 123 others were wounded. A significant portion of the camp was destroyed.

The Special Investigation, which was tasked to look into the external factors that led to the incident, has been completed. The Investigation identified the following factors as having contributed to the attacks: deep rooted historical land disputes, the ‘28 States’ Order and the Eastern Nile State Administrative order of 1 February which dismissed all Shilluk and Nuer civil servants. The Investigation determined that the immediate trigger for the attacks was an attempt by two SPLA soldiers to smuggle ammunition into the site on 16 February. The investigation also concluded that external armed elements, some in SPLA uniforms, entered the PoC site during the period and took part in the violence and destruction of parts of the site. The Investigation team requested that the Transitional Government of National Unity hold the individuals responsible accountable for the violence. The team also provided a number of recommendations to the Government, regional and international actors — including the UN — aimed at preventing such attacks in the future.

A UN Headquarters-led Board of Inquiry, which was tasked to look into the Mission’s response to the incident, is being finalised. The preliminary report of the Board mentions inter alia, that a number of issues contributed to the incident. On the UNMISS response, in particular, there was confusion with respect to command and control and Rules of Engagement and a lack of coordination among the various civilian and uniformed peacekeepers in Malakal at the time of the crisis. The Board also mentioned that there were unrealistic expectations as to the level of protection that UNMISS could feasibly provide to the 48,000 IDPs in Malakal at the time of the incident. UN Headquarters is reviewing a number of recommendations made by the Board in order to minimise the recurrence of such incidents, including the reviewing of the concept of Protection of Civilians sites and the performance of troop and police contributing countries.
The Department of Peacekeeping Operations is engaging on the way forward with concerned troop contributing countries.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, will brief the Security Council in this regard on Wednesday, 22 June.

UN Security Council Press Statement on South Sudan, 4 May 2016

The members of the Security Council welcomed the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) in South Sudan on April 29 as an important milestone in implementation of the “Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan” (the Agreement).

The members of the Security Council recalled the thousands killed, the ongoing human suffering and the deteriorating economic situation and called upon the recently established TGNU to work together to fully implement the Agreement and bring an end to the cycles of violence and suffering, including by adhering to the permanent ceasefire, and by urgently creating the transitional institutions envisioned in the Agreement, which are needed to maintain security and build trust between the parties.

The members of the Security Council expressed appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and the African Union through its High Representative for South Sudan former President Konare to support formation of the TGNU and called on the TGNU to extend its full cooperation and support to the JMEC Chair former President Mogae for implementation of the Agreement.  The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of continued and active engagement on South Sudan by the region and the international community to ensure that peace, stability and prosperity are restored in the country.  

The members of the Security Council underscored the importance of the TGNU to implement fully the Agreement, including its remaining provisions on governance and elections and on the permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements, as well as provisions on humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, resource, economic, and financial management, transitional justice, accountability, reconciliation, and healing, and the parameters of the permanent constitution.  

The members of the Security Council underscored the pressing need for accountability for violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law in South Sudan, including ongoing violations and abuses that have been reported since the Agreement was signed.

The members of the Security Council recalled the 2.5 million people displaced from their homes and the 6.1 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, reiterated their grave concern at the dire humanitarian situation in South Sudan and condemned the severe impediments imposed by the parties on the ground to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.  They called on the TGNU to urgently remove these impediments to ensure aid reaches those in need.

The members of the Security Council reminded the TGNU of its obligations under the Status of Forces of Agreement with UNMISS and called upon the TGNU to allow UNMISS freedom of movement to implement its mandate to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and support implementation of the Agreement.  The members of the Security Council stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between the TGNU and UNMISS to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers and other United Nations and associated personnel, including humanitarian personnel.    

The members of the Security Council underscored the importance of the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) being allowed to move in South Sudan as necessary for the discharge of its mandate as envisaged under the Agreement.

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack against the UNMISS compound in Bentiu on 25 April, while stressing that attacks directed against civilians, UNMISS personnel and United Nations premises are unacceptable and may constitute war crimes.

The members of the Security Council expressed their alarm at reports of intermittent violence witnessed in several areas of the country.  The members of the Security Council called upon all parties to cease immediately all violence.  

The members of the Security Council reiterated that they stand in solidarity with the people of South Sudan.  The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national unity of the Republic of South Sudan.

Statement Attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on South Sudan

New York, 28 April

The Secretary-General welcomes the appointment today by President Salva Kiir of the Ministers of the Transitional Government of National Unity, consistent with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan of 17 August 2015. He is pleased to note that President Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar have achieved this important milestone of the peace process and urges them to swiftly complete the establishment of all institutions of transition. He also urges the parties to cease immediately all hostilities.

The Secretary-General commends the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) chair, President Festus Mogae, and the African Union High Representative, President Alpha Omar Konare, for steering the peace process forward, and reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support all South Sudanese in restoring peace, stability and prosperity in the country. He calls on the larger international community to remain actively engaged in the peace process and provide the necessary support to the full and timely implementation of the Peace Agreement.

 

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on South Sudan

New York, 26 April 2016

The Secretary-General welcomes the return of Riek Machar to Juba and his swearing in as the First Vice President which marks a new phase in the implementation of the peace agreement. The Secretary-General calls for the immediate formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity. He commends the efforts of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Chairperson former President Festus Mogae and the AU High Representative former President Alpha Oumar Konaré.  The Secretary-General also calls on the Security Council to work closely with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to mobilize all the required support for the peace process.

Readout of the Secretary-General’s telephone calls with H.E. Mr. Salva KIIR, President of South Sudan and H.E. Mr. Riek MACHAR, First Vice-President Designate of the Republic of South Sudan, New York, 17 April 2016

The Secretary-General spoke today with President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan. He commended President Kiir for his decision to welcome Riek Machar back to Juba and swear him in as the First Vice President of South Sudan on Monday, 18 April. He called for the expeditious implementation of the security arrangements envisaged in the peace agreement and the withdrawal additional SPLA troops from Juba.

The Secretary-General also spoke to the First Vice President Designate of the Republic of South Sudan, Riek Machar. He welcomed his decision to return to Juba and urged him to work with President Kiir to prevent any further violence.

The Secretary-General underscored the need to quickly form the Transitional Government of National Unity, as a crucial next step in the peace process. He reaffirmed the readiness of the United Nations to assist in all efforts to bring peace to South Sudan. He urged both leaders to continue working together with the Chairman of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, former president Mogae, and the African Union High Representative for South Sudan, former president Konare, towards the implementation of the peace agreement.

South Sudan on ‘verge of fragmenting,’ UN officials warn Security Council

UN Police conducts search operation in Juba Protection of Civilians site, South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS

UN Police conducts search operation in Juba Protection of Civilians site, South Sudan. Photo: UNMISS

19 February 2016 – With senior United Nations officials warning of escalating inter-communal violence and rampant human rights violations in South Sudan, the Security Council today strongly condemned all attacks and provocations against civilians and the UN by armed actors, and called for calm on all sides.

In a statement to the press, the Council condemned “in the strongest terms” violence committed by elements of the Shilluk and Dinka communities, which erupted in the protection of civilians site in Malakal managed by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), on February 17 and which continued into yesterday, resulting in more than 18 deaths and 50 injuries.

The members of the Council said they were particularly alarmed by credible reports of armed men in Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) un uniforms entering the UNMISS camp and firing on civilians, and the looting and burning of tents.

Strongly condemning “all attacks and provocations against civilians and the United Nations by armed actors, including SPLA soldiers,” the Council reminded all parties, including Government security forces, of the civilian character of the protection of civilian sites in South Sudan.

In its statement, the Council went to call for calm by all sides and to refrain from additional fighting, acts of violence, and further provocations. The 15-member body also called on the Government “to swiftly investigate this attack, with the assistance of UNMISS, and bring the perpetrators to justice. “It is the responsibility of the Government […] to hold those responsible for the attack accountable,” emphasized the Council.

The Security Council stressed that attacks against civilians and UN premises may constitute war crimes, and those involved could be potentially subject to sanctions as authorized under its resolution 2206 (2015) for actions that threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan.

In a scheduled briefing that preceded the Council’s statement, two senior UN officials urged the body and regional leaders to continue engaging all parties involved in the longstanding conflict to attain a sustainable peace.

Situation on the Ground

Moustapha Soumaré, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan and deputy UNMISS chief reiterated the Mission’s grave concern over the outbreak of violence at the Malakal site and noted that UNMISS uniformed personnel are undertaking robust measures to strengthen physical security within and around the site, while humanitarian partners are working to resume delivery of essential services.

“Meanwhile, we are engaged at all levels in the Government, the opposition and the national security forces, as well as within the communities themselves, to address the underlying factors and avoid a resumption of violence,” Mr. Soumaré said.

Violence continues in many regions of the country, including in areas that had previously been relatively calm, he said. Of particular concern is the deteriorating security situation in Western Bahr E1 Ghazal, particularly around Wau, which has also escalated over the past 48 hours.
In response to shifting conflict dynamics, Mr. Soumaré said the Mission has adopted a “more agile force posture” to protect civilians affected by violence. UNMISS is focusing on projecting physical presence away from its bases in Bentiu, Bor, Juba, Malakal and Wau through long-duration patrols and temporary operating bases in areas where insecurity is high.

This includes the establishment of temporary operating bases in Leer as well as in Mundri, which, along with the deployment of an additional company to Yambio, has strengthened the Mission’s presence in western Equatoria.

Humanitarian Challenges

As violence continues, humanitarian needs are also increasing, the Special Representative said. An estimated 6.1 million people across South Sudan are in urgent need of assistance as a result of interlocking threats, including armed conflict and inter-communal violence, economic decline, disease and climactic shocks. Insecurity and poor road conditions are also negatively impacting the UN’s capability to preposition humanitarian supplies before roads are made impassable by the coming rainy season.

Despite these urgent needs, the Mission and humanitarian partners continue to face significant constraints on their operations, including regular instances in which personnel are denied freedom of movement, as well as other violations of the Mission’s Status of Forces Agreement with the Government. These incidents are regularly reported to the Council and to Government counterparts, he noted.

“It is of critical importance that the parties move ahead with the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity,” Mr. Soumaré emphasized. “Nonetheless, we must remember that its formation is but the first of many inter-locking steps forward towards fully implementing the peace agreement.” Once the transitional government is formed, it will need to be empowered to operationalize the institutions of transition, the Special Representative also said.

“Only the full implementation of the peace agreement, with clear peace dividends for the people of South Sudan, will help bring stability to the country,” he concluded.

Human Rights

Also briefing the Council, Ivan Šimonović, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, noted that the initial signing of the peace agreement in August had been met with optimism that the parties to the conflict would abide by their declaration of a permanent ceasefire and halt their attacks on the civilian population.

“However, the reconciliatory rhetoric propagated by Government and opposition actors has deflected from the fact that the parties to the conflict continue to attack, kill, abduct, rape, arbitrarily detain, and forcefully displace civilians, and pillage and destroy their property,” Mr. Šimonovic stressed.

Providing details of attacks on civilians since the signing of the peace agreement, the UN official lamented that new theatres of violence are emerging in areas such as the Equatorias, which had previously been little affected by direct hostilities. He also underscored that an increasing number of armed defence groups had emerged in response to the Government’s “highly militarized approach” to addressing insecurity.

“With the diffusion of armed conflict in all parts of the country, and the creation of local armed groups fighting against Government troops, South Sudan faces the risk of fragmentation and related human rights violations,” he said.

While conflict-related violence remains a serious concern, Mr. Šimonović emphasized that human rights are under attack throughout the country. As UNMISS recently documented in a report, the space for freedom of expression and dissent has narrowed considerably, with various accounts of deliberately silencing dissenting voices including those of human rights defenders and journalists. However, Mr. Šimonović stressed, no action has been taken as of yet.

“Perpetrators of these violations have not been held accountable,” he said. “South Sudan has a long history of forgiveness and amnesties, even for the most serious crimes. To break this longstanding cycle of impunity, and to prevent future violations of international human rights law, we must ensure that the transitional justice mechanisms outlined in the peace agreement are implemented.”

Among his recommendations, Mr. Šimonović urged the parties to the conflict to immediately cease all violations of international and humanitarian law and human rights abuses, and implement the peace agreement “in letter and spirit in a timely manner.” He also urged the Security Council and regional leaders to continue engaging the parties to conflict in this regard.

“It cannot be tolerated that leaders make declarations in Juba, while the hostilities and attacks on the civilian population continue and intensify across the country. Not only is South Sudan on the verge of fragmenting, but the conflict seriously threatens stability in the entire region,” he said.

“The United Nations need to extend all necessary support to the African Union and the Transitional Government of National Unity, once established, to ensure that the cycle of impunity is broken and justice is served,” he concluded.

 

Unprecedented food crisis looms over strife-torn South Sudan, UN agencies warn

Two-year-old, Kuot is being treated for severe acute malnutrition, at the UNICEF-supported Al-Shabbah Children’s Hospital, in Juba, South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

Two-year-old, Kuot is being treated for severe acute malnutrition, at the UNICEF-supported Al-Shabbah Children’s Hospital, in Juba, South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

8 February 2016 – South Sudan faces unprecedented levels of food insecurity, with 2.8 million people, nearly 25 per cent of the population, in urgent need of aid, at least 40,000 of them on the brink of catastrophe, at a time when the war-torn country is traditionally most food secure, United Nations agencies warned today.

“It is not only areas directly affected by conflict that are food insecure; some 200,000 people in Northern Bahr El Ghazal and Warrap states have also seen their access to food deteriorate, owing to factors such as price inflation and market disruptions that are tied to the conflict,” said UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Acting Representative, Serge Tissot, in a press release.

“Prompt implementation of the peace agreement is absolutely critical to improving the food situation,” he added of the latest international efforts to end the conflict that erupted between President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar over two years ago, killing thousands, displacing over 2.4 million people, 650,000 of whom fled abroad, and impacting the overall food security of 4.6 million.

FAO, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) stressed that the current numbers are particularly worrisome because they show an increase in hunger during the post-harvest period, when the country is traditionally has most food.

The numbers are expected to peak during the coming lean season, traditionally worst between April and July, when food availability is lowest. Humanitarian partners project that the lean season will start early this year, and the hunger period will be longer than in previous years.

The three UN agencies noted that the dry season, beginning now, could bring additional hardship to people facing the most severe levels of hunger. Those displaced in conflict-affected Unity State, who have been living on fish and water lilies to survive, are running out of their only remaining sources of food as the floods recede.

Livestock raiding has robbed many people of essential animal products like milk, which were their main means of survival during last year’s lean season. Unless humanitarian assistance can reliably reach them during the dry season, they face catastrophe in the coming months.

For this reason, the agencies are calling for a speedy implementation of the peace agreement signed last year, and for unrestricted access to conflict areas to deliver much needed supplies to the most affected areas.

“During the dry season, we must make a massive pre-positioning effort so that we can continue assisting people after roads become impassable once the rains come,” WFP Country Director Joyce Luma said. “Rising insecurity in Greater Equatoria is hampering delivery of humanitarian assistance through major routes, setting back our efforts to prepare and respond to people who are most in need.”

Overall prevalence of emergency levels of malnutrition is also an issue of grave concern, due mostly to inadequate food consumption, along with disease, dietary habits, and constrained health and nutrition service delivery.

“Families have been doing everything they can to survive but they are now running out of options,” UNICEF Representative Jonathan Veitch said. “Many of the areas where the needs are greatest are out of reach because of the security situation. It’s crucial that we are given unrestricted access now. If we can reach them, we can help them.”

FAO plans to assist 2.8 million people in producing food and protecting their livestock assets in 2016, compared to 2.4 million people reached last year. FAO emergency livelihood support includes crop kits, vegetable kits, fishing kits and livestock vaccinations of more than five million head of cattle.

UNICEF has set a target of treating more than 165,000 children for severe acute malnutrition in 2016. Last year the number of children treated surpassed 144,000, a 53 per cent increase over 2014.

WFP delivered food and nutrition assistance to some three million people across the country in the last year, working with 87 non-governmental organizations (NGO) partners and using every tool at its disposal, including airdrops, river barges, cash-based transfers, local food purchases and specialized nutritious foods.

As deadline slips in South Sudan, UN chief urges African partners to revive peace process

Women and children arrive in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site for internally displaced people, in Unity State, South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

Women and children arrive in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site for internally displaced people, in Unity State, South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Sebastian Rich

25 January 2016 – With South Sudan’s parties missing last week’s deadline to set up the Transitional Government of National Unity amid deadlock over establishing 28 states, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the war-torn country’s African partners to save the peace process.

“He encourages the (East African) Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and African Union (AU) member States to seize the opportunity of the forthcoming African Union summit to address the political impasse that is impeding the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity,” a statement issued by his spokesman said.

IGAD, the AU, the UN, China, Norway, United Kingdom and United States sponsored a peace agreement which President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President Riek Machar signed in August to end the bloody conflict that erupted between their factions two years ago, killing thousands, displacing over 2.4 million people, and endangering the food security of 4.6 million.

Senior UN officials have warned that repeated ceasefire violations by both the Government and opposition, with tens of thousands of additional people fleeing their homes, threaten to undermine the peace process in the country, which only gained independence in 2009 after breaking away from Sudan, its northern neighbour.

“The Secretary-General expresses his concern over the parties’ deadlock over the issue of the establishment of 28 states, and their failure to meet the 22 January deadline to establish the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan,” today’s statement said.

“He stresses that the formation of the Transitional Government is an essential step in implementing the peace agreement and laying the foundation for peace and stability in the country…

“The Secretary-General reaffirms that the United Nations will continue to do all it can to support the people of South Sudan who continue to be subjected to unimaginable suffering and human rights abuses, as they have been since the beginning of the conflict over two years ago.”

Just last month, the Security Council increased the UN peacekeeping level in the country by more than 1,000 to a ceiling of 15,000 troops and police, citing protection of civilians “by all necessary means” as its top priority amid “reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity” have been committed.

The Mission currently has some 12,500 uniformed personnel on the ground.