The United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon on Thursday reiterated calls for leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties to end the country’s ongoing conflict.
In a statement, Ban urged president Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, to reach an inclusive agreement for a transitional phase of governance based on justice, transparency and accountability in the management of oil resources.
“You opened the wounds that have caused so much suffering,” he said, adding that, “Now heal them”.
South Sudan has been embroiled in conflict since December last year. The violence has killed thousands and displaced about 1.3 million people, as East African regional mediators seek its peaceful end.
Talks to end the violence resumed last week in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and mediators have warned that time is running out.
A peace agreement, he said, will have to address convincingly the causes of the conflict, in particular, transparency and accountability in the management of oil resources, which must be used to improve the welfare of the majority, not to benefit the minority.
“Those responsible for atrocities must face justice through a mechanism that meets international standards,” said the UN chief.
“There can be no amnesty for anyone responsible for killing innocent civilians,” he added.
Ban also urged the international community to intensify its support for South Sudan, but said its leaders must protect civilians, allow humanitarian access and guarantee the safety of aid operations.
The world body is reportedly supporting the people of South Sudan with the biggest humanitarian operation ever undertaken in a country.
“Around four million people – more than a third of the country – suffer alarming food insecurity. Unless we act quickly, some 50,000 children could die before the end of this year,” he said.
The UN is sheltering nearly 100,000 civilians who fled the violence at its bases in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states, as well as in the capital, Juba.
An additional 5,000 peacekeepers have been deployed to reinforce its mission in South Sudan. China is due to send an estimated 700 to the country next month as part of efforts by the UN to bolster peace.
Hervé Ladsous, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission expressed his frustration with the parties, saying it has been a “very long story of agreements made, but none kept”.
“The can be no military solution to the conflict, and those who impede peace negotiations or commit atrocities will ultimately have to face consequences,” said Ladsous.
“There will be no amnesty for those people or leaders who have been responsible for killing innocent civilians that had sought refuge in schools, in hospitals, in places of worship,” he added.
South Sudan Tribune