UN: UN chief welcomes South Sudan's acceptance of regional protection force

New York, US (PANA) - The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday welcomed the acceptance, by the Government of South Sudan, of a regional protection force to help quell the ongoing violence in the country, and called on all South Sudanese parties to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians and to demonstrate their commitment to a peace agreement.

In a statement obtained by PANA in New York, Ban welcomed the communique of the Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Plus countries, which proposed the deployment of the force, agreed at a regional meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

IGAD leaders' aim is for the regional force to help shore up South Sudan's year-old peace deal.

The UN chief lauded the IGAD leaders for their decisive action, and urged all South Sudanese leaders to set aside their personal differences and demonstrate their commitment to the implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, which he said "remains the only viable path to ending the crisis".

He expressed his deep concern about the continued fighting in the country and called for an immediate end to the hostilities, saying: "I am outraged by the continued reports of serious human rights violations and abuses, including widespread sexual violence against women and young girls, committed by armed men in uniform."

He demanded that they take immediate steps to hold accountable those responsible for these "despicable" crimes.

Ban also reiterated his commitment to work with all South Sudanese, IGAD, the African Union and international partners, to implement the recommendations of the East African summit.

The decision by IGAD, the East African bloc which has been working along with the wider African Union (AU) to address the crisis, came after deadly clashes in South Sudan between rival forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the SPLA-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) backing First Vice-President Riek Machar, which erupted in and around the capital, Juba, on 7 July, close to the fifth anniversary of the country's independence.

UN compounds and civilian protection sites managed by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were attacked during the fighting, and, according to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, a preliminary UN investigation into the recent fighting and its aftermath revealed that Government security forces carried out killings and rapes, and looted and destroyed properties.

PANA recalled that the UN humanitarian chief, Stephen O'Brien, who visited the country last week, also voiced his serious concern at the humanitarian situation, particularly the violence against civilians, as well as attacks against aid workers, which he said is hampering efforts to respond to the needs of the people affected by the fighting.

The world youngest country has faced ongoing challenges since a political face-off between the two leaders erupted into full blown conflict in December 2013.

The crisis has produced one of the world's worst displacement situations with immense suffering for civilians, and despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability have also spread to previously unaffected areas in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions of South Sudan.

In July, deadly clashes in Wau resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people, while up to 35,000 fled their homes.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 8Aug2016

08 august 2016 14:52:24

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