NEW YORK – UN Headquarters – Violence in South Sudan has claimed the lives of twenty civilians and two peacekeepers in an attack on a United Nations base in Akobo.
With the security and humanitarian situations in South Sudan deteriorating as a result of the country’s political disputes, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the members of the Security Council have strongly condemned the ongoing violence, including the deadly attack on a United Nations base in Akobo yesterday, which killed some 20 civilians and two peacekeepers.
There appears to be the possibility of de-escalation in South Sudan, there is an ongoing mediation started.
Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom, is leading the mediation and says that talks are continuing. Adhanom will not provide details to the media on progress.
The ongoing clashes started seven days ago after South Sudan President Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of attempting a coup. That overthrow failed. However in fighting in the country, hundreds of people have died.
President Kiir has said he is ready for dialogue. Riek Machar has reported to French radio he will only “negotiate his [Salva Kiir’s] departure from power”.
The civilians and the two peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) lost their lives when an estimated 2,000 heavily armed youth believed to be of Lour Nuer ethnicity surrounded the UN base in Akobo, and opened fire on the Dinka ethnic civilians seeking refuge inside. After the deadly attack, the assailants fled with arms, ammunition and other supplies.
The deadly fighting escalated in the two-year-old country over the weekend, according to media reports, following what President Salva Kiir’s Government has claimed was an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, who was dismissed in July.
The Secretary-General, in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, reiterated his call for all parties to exercise restraint, and to cease hostilities.
“He also strongly calls on the top leaders of the SPLM [Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement] to demonstrate compromise and leadership on behalf of the Southern Sudanese people and to resolve their personal differences through dialogue immediately,” said the statement, which expressed the UN chief’s condolences to the families of the fallen peacekeepers and to the families of the civilians killed yesterday.
Following earlier closed-door talks with Assistant Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations, Edmund Mulet, Ambassador Gerard Araud of France, which holds the 15-member body’s rotating presidency this month, told reporters that the Council called on both President Kiir and Mr. Machar “to demonstrate leadership in bringing a swift and peaceful resolution to this crisis by calling for a cessation of hostilities and immediately commencing a dialogue.”