Fighting in South Sudan Stalls Peace Talks

A peacekeeper stands guard at UN House while displaced children look on behind a fence. UN Photo/Isaac Billy
A peacekeeper stands guard at UN House while displaced children look on behind a fence. UN Photo/Isaac Billy

A peacekeeper stands guard at UN House while displaced children look on behind a fence. UN Photo/Isaac Billy
A peacekeeper stands guard at UN House while displaced children look on behind a fence. UN Photo/Isaac Billy

Fighting Continues in South Sudan

GENEVA – International News – Fighting in South Sudan has continued. The Government is reported to be retaking territory from rebel forces. Talks aimed at ending the fighting have stalled. Ad the South Sudanese Government continues making progress, it is less likely that there will be an impetus to further engage in talks with the opposition forces. Discussion with United Nations and World Governments in Ethiopia have stopped. The United Nations are calling on South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir to release political prisoners. Rebel leader Riek Machar says that if eleven “political prisoners” are released it will help bring an end to the fighting.

The United Nations Security Council has renewed its call on all parties in strife-torn South Sudan to end the violence, protect civilians and ease access for relief workers.

The wider United Nations organization is its efforts help alleviate the “extremely volatile” situation by moving to reinforce peacekeepers and scale up its humanitarian response.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced that he would dispatch Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, to the country this weekend to look into cases of rights violations believed to have been committed by both sides in the conflict which has displaced more than 230,000 people, more than a quarter of whom are on UN bases seeking refuge from fighting between pro- and anti-Government forces.

“I have been urging and making it quite clear that those perpetrators of serious human rights violations will be held accountable,” Mr. Ban said in his first press conference of the year in New York. He added that there would be close consultations with the Security Council on the future course of action based on the evidence collected.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has been gathering evidence of violations, with around 60 international investigators backed by some 30 South Sudanese counterparts, the Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) announced. The African Union has also announced an investigation.

Addressing journalists in Geneva, spokesperson Rupert Colville said OHCHR welcomed recent high-level commitments to investigate the serious human rights violations and establish who is responsible “as soon as possible in accordance with internationally accepted standards and principles of objectivity, transparency and due process.”

Mr. Ban and his Special Representative in the country, Hilde Johnson, along with High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and other senior officials have repeatedly called for an end to the fighting and urged a political solution through the ongoing talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).