UN Calls for Peace Talks in South Sudan

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UN Calls for Peace in South Sudan
UN Calls for Peace in South Sudan

Civilians at the UN House compound on the southwestern outskirts of Juba, South Sudan. UN Photo/Julio Brathwaite
Civilians at the UN House compound on the southwestern outskirts of Juba, South Sudan. UN Photo/Julio Brathwaite

South Sudan Violent Fighting Continues

NEW YORK – International News – Almost 1000 people have died in fighting in South Sudan. The violence has raged on in the country for several weeks. The United Nations is calling on both sides to end the violence.

Amid set peace talks between the Government of South Sudan and warring rebels, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country today urged both sides to make crucial efforts to end the violence.

Make a Decisive Step for Peace

“We call for both parties to use this first day of the new year to take a decisive step for peace,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hilde Johnson, told journalists in the South Sudanese capital, Juba. “We want to make this day, the day that the fighting stopped.”

Representatives of President Salva Kiir and former deputy president Riek Machar are due to meet today in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, according to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African bloc that is mediating the talks.

Ms. Johnson said that she had spoken by phone with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, who confirmed that the delegations were expected to arrive “this afternoon”.

Cessation of hostilities, opening humanitarian corridors, the issue of political prisoners, and protection of civilians will form the main agenda of the talks.

“It is a step in the right direction,” said Ms. Johnson, who also heads the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

She added that negotiations in Addis need to be accompanied by a deeper process that focuses on national reconciliation, and reconciliation between the communities which have not healed since South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war.

“The country is at a crossroads. It’s at the fork in the road,” Ms. Johnson said. “But it can still be saved from further major escalations of violence. It is up to the leaders of this country and the two parties.”

Fresh fighting in the world’s newest country erupted on 15 December when President Kiir said soldiers loyal to Mr. Machar, dismissed from office in July, launched an attempted coup. Mr. Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Mr. Machar to the Lou Nuer, and the conflict has been increasingly marked by reports of ethnically targeted violence.

Thousands of people are estimated to have died in the violence and some 180,000 others have been driven from their homes, up to 75,000 of them seeking refuge on UNMISS bases, which has been authorized by the Security Council to almost double its armed strength to nearly 14,000 in an effort to protect civilians.

“We call for both parties to use this first day of the new year to take a decisive step for peace,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hilde Johnson, told journalists in the South Sudanese capital, Juba. “We want to make this day, the day that the fighting stopped.”

Representatives of President Salva Kiir and former deputy president Riek Machar are due to meet today in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, according to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African bloc that is mediating the talks.

Ms. Johnson said that she had spoken by phone with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu, who confirmed that the delegations were expected to arrive “this afternoon”.

Cessation of hostilities, opening humanitarian corridors, the issue of political prisoners, and protection of civilians will form the main agenda of the talks.

“It is a step in the right direction,” said Ms. Johnson, who also heads the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

She added that negotiations in Addis need to be accompanied by a deeper process that focuses on national reconciliation, and reconciliation between the communities which have not healed since South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war.

“The country is at a crossroads. It’s at the fork in the road,” Ms. Johnson said. “But it can still be saved from further major escalations of violence. It is up to the leaders of this country and the two parties.”

Fresh fighting in the world’s newest country erupted on 15 December when President Kiir said soldiers loyal to Mr. Machar, dismissed from office in July, launched an attempted coup. Mr. Kiir belongs to the Dinka ethnic group and Mr. Machar to the Lou Nuer, and the conflict has been increasingly marked by reports of ethnically targeted violence.

Thousands of people are estimated to have died in the violence and some 180,000 others have been driven from their homes, up to 75,000 of them seeking refuge on UNMISS bases, which has been authorized by the Security Council to almost double its armed strength to nearly 14,000 in an effort to protect civilians.