UN: UN envoy in South Sudan welcomes peace deal signing scheduled for Wednesday

New York, US (PANA) - The Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Loj, on Tuesday welcomed the decision by rival parties in South Sudan to convene  Wednesday a mini-summit, where the government, in the interest of peace is expected to sign the agreement already endorsed by former Vice President Riek Machar.

She, however, noted that the security situation on the ground remains "volatile and tense."

"I reiterate my call to the leaders of South Sudan to place the interests of their people above
their personal ambitions and to implement the peace agreement in good faith," Ms. Loj said
in a briefing to the UN Security Council in New York.

She warned that fighting in the Greater Upper Nile region has remained intense and further
escalation of hostilities in southern Unity state has had increasingly severe consequences
for the civilian population.

"Major offensives conducted by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in Opposition
and its allied militias into opposition-held areas have led to further deterioration of the security
and humanitarian situations since April, and resulted in numerous reports of grave human
rights violations.

"Most recently, on 19 August, fighting occurred between SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation
Army) and Opposition forces around Leer town, with both sides trading accusations of
having initiated the attack," she stated.

Ms. Loj also explained that both sides have stayed in close proximity to each other along
the banks of the Nile River, noting that she was disappointed that they have not observed
the Cessation of Hostilities or the ceasefire that they agreed to in Addis Ababa.

"Also, the escalation of fighting has sparked further displacements, and civilians from
conflict-affected counties in southern Unity state have fled to the UNMISS protection of
civilians site in Bentiu, while new internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the west bank
of the Nile arrived at the Mission’s base in Malakal," the UN envoy said.

She disclosed that, "UNMISS is now providing protection to over 200,000 IDPs at
six protection of civilians sites, and the Bentiu site has experienced the largest
recent increase in IDPs, up by 140 percent since late April, while the population at the
Malakal site has grown by almost 50 percent just since mid-July."

"The large influx of IDP’s into UNMISS bases during the reporting period, and the
resulting rise in political, ethnic and tribal tensions, as well as criminal activity in the
camps, underscores the unsustainability of these protection sites for the longer term,"
she noted.

The mission, Ms. Loj said, has further expanded its reach outside of these sites,
through patrols, in order to increase security for the local populace, while also
facilitating conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

"However, capacity and resource constraints and deliberate obstruction by the
parties have limited these efforts," she regretted.

On his part, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien
said: "The overall humanitarian situation continues sharply to deteriorate, as of today,
over 2.2 million people have been displaced due to the conflict, an increase of 200,000
since the beginning of this year."

"Over 1.6 million are displaced internally and over 616,000 people have fled to
neighbouring states, and severe food insecurity is affecting 4.6 million people this year
compared to 3.8 million at the height of the lean season last year," Mr. O'Brien told
the Security Council members.
-0-   PANA   AA/AR  25August2015

25 august 2015 19:28:37

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