While noting that the ceasefire between South Sudan’s warring factions has “largely held,” the United Nations Security Council today said it was deeply alarmed by ongoing violence in the country and set out specific steps for the parties to take towards full implementation of a seven-month–old peace deal, saying it would review their progress by the end of the month.
In a statement read out at a formal meeting by its President for the month of March, Ismael Abraão Gaspar Martins of Angola, the Council expressed concern at the parties’ failure to fully implement the August 2015 Agreement on ending 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.
Through its statement, the Council called for the following five steps:
- The Government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) fully and immediately adhere to the permanent ceasefire in accordance with their obligations under the Agreement;
- The Government, the SPLM-IO and all other relevant actors extend their full cooperation to complete implementation of the of Juba security arrangements as decided by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Chair and agreed by the parties on 24 February, 2016;
- The President, the First Vice-President, and Vice-President, as set out in the Agreement, take up their positions in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGNU) in Juba;
- The parties to the agreement abide by and take no action inconsistent with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) 30-31 January 2016 communiqué, which was subsequently endorsed by the parties and JMEC, on the issue of the Presidential Decree on the creation of 28 new states; and
- The Government of South Sudan and the SPLM-IO protect civilians and civilian facilities, including schools and hospitals, allow people to move freely, and allow in accordance with relevant provisions of international law and UN guiding principles of humanitarian assistance the full, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access to help ensure timely delivery of humanitarian assistance, to all those in need.
Further, the Council expressed its alarm over credible reports of armed men in uniforms of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) entering the UN Mission (UNMISS) protection-of-civilians site and firing on civilians. Describing such attacks as “unacceptable,” the Council called upon the Government to investigate and prosecute those responsible, and commended the UN for having quickly announced the establishment of a High-Level Board of Inquiry.
The Council called attention to the 11 March report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Assessment Mission and the 4 December 2015 UNMISS/OHCHR report ‘The State of Human Rights in the Protracted Conflict in South Sudan,” condemning reported human rights violations and abuses, as well as violations of international humanitarian law.
It also underscored its grave concern over the deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation, noting that an estimated 2.8 million people were severely food insecure amid continuing restrictions on humanitarian access.