The United Nations warned yesterday that all those leading and perpetrating hostilities and acts of violence against civilians, UN and humanitarian personnel, assets and premises may face war crime charges.
The international community, through its wide-ranging security, legal and human rights mechanisms, will be carefully monitoring developments in the coming days precisely in order to be able to identify on whom the burden of accountability for war crimes should ultimately be placed.
Addressing a press encounter at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday ( July 11, 2016) about the unfolding crisis in South Sudan, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that “The renewed fighting is outrageous. It is yet another grievous setback. It deepens the country’s suffering. It makes a mockery of commitments to peace”.
He expressed deep condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who have been killed in the fighting that has consumed Juba over the past five days. He also condemned the killing of two Chinese peacekeepers and one UN national staff.
“I am appalled by these indiscriminate attacks on civilians and peacekeepers. The two UNMISS compounds in Juba have been caught in the cross-fire and sustained mortar and heavy artillery fire. At least two internally displaced persons have been killed in the UNMISS protection of civilians sites, and some 35 injured.
“Thousands of civilians have fled to various locations in town, including the two UNMISS compounds.Yet again, the leaders of South Sudan have failed their people. Rarely has a country squandered so much promise, so quickly.
“What kind of leadership is it that resorts to deadly weapons and identity politics, time and again? Failed leadership”. he asked.
The UN boss was emphatic that “There must and will be accountability for the atrocities that have been committed in South Sudan since 2013. It is not just leaders who must face a reckoning, but all those in the chain of command, including chiefs of staff and other officials complicit in the violence”.
While I understand that President Kiir reportedly issued an order to the SPLA last night to stop fighting, hostilities continue today and have spread to parts outside of Juba in Central Equatoria.
To this end, the Secretary General charged Sudanese President Salva Kiir and First Vice-President Riek Machar to do everything in their power to de-escalate the hostilities immediately, by ordering their respective forces to withdraw to their bases.
He assured that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) “is doing all it can to contain a very volatile situation. Our peacekeepers maintain a proactive posture, conducting patrols within and immediately outside the protection of civilians sites. It has reinforced perimeter security to enhance protection for IDPs and UN staff at its two compounds”.
Welcoming a statement by the Security Council that the gravity of the situation demanded a rapid response, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon urged the Council to immediately impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, enact additional targeted sanctions on leaders and commanders blocking the implementation of the peace Agreement and thirdly to fortify the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS.
The Secretary-General urged the South Sudanese Government to ease all restrictions immediately so that the UN peacekeeping mission can freely move around, allow normal operation of UNMISS and all other diplomatic missions there since the many roadblocks and safety checks do not allow movement, and really makes it very difficult for provide humanitarian assistance and also to take care of wounded civilians and soldiers.
Source: Ghana Missions, New York