US: US says urgent action needed to end South Sudan conflict

Washington, DC, US (PANA) - The US has stressed that it is imperative that all parties join together to forge a resolution and bring peace to the people of South Sudan as the bloody conflict in the country enter its fourth year.

In a statement issued on Monday in Washington, DC, by John Kirby, Assistant Secretary of the US State Department, the US said both the government and opposition were responsible for the "horrific violence" that has brought so much suffering to innocent civilians.

"We are deeply troubled both by the recent mobilization of 4,000 government-affiliated militia in Central Equatoria and by repeated calls from opposition leaders to overthrow the government and attack the capital," the statement said.

The US noted that both the government and opposition continued to obstruct humanitarian access and impede the operations of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), and despite pledges to do so, the government had not taken sufficient steps to allow deployment of an UNMISS regional protection force to provide stability and security in the capital city, Juba.

"We note President (Salva) Kiir's December 14 call for a national dialogue and call on both sides to create the conditions that would be required for such a dialogue to succeed," the statement said, adding this means that both sides must cease violence against civilians, support humanitarian access, and respect the cease fire.

"The government must meet its responsibilities for safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press. The opposition must channel its efforts into dialogue instead of working to overthrow the government. UNMISS must be permitted to do its job unobstructed, and the Regional Protection Force must be permitted to deploy."

The statement said throughout these challenging times, the United States and partners in the international community would continue to stand with the people of South Sudan.

It said the continuing threat to peace and security demanded additional actions by the international community, including the swift adoption by the UN Security Council of an arms embargo to stanch the flow of weapons and targeted sanctions against those who have undermined peace and stability and created the conditions for mass civilian atrocities.

"As we and our partners in the international community continue to pursue these measures, we will support those engaging in peaceful and inclusive dialogue as a means to resolve the current crisis and work toward the peaceful future that the people of South Sudan deserve," the US said.

Following growing tensions and increasing despair among South Sudan’s population, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also on Monday warned that the international community’s failure to act now could put the country on a trajectory towards mass atrocities.

"It is time to put the people of South Sudan, and not its leaders, at the forefront of any strategy," Ban told the UN Security Council at a briefing on Monday in New York.

He stated: "We should be united and determined in following through with severe consequences for those who impede the path to peace and stability."

The UN chief informed the Security Council of reports suggesting that South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his loyalists were contemplating a new military offensive in the coming days against the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)-In Opposition.

He also cited reports that long-time rival Riek Machar and other opposition groups were pursuing a military escalation.

Ban stressed the need to prevent military action by the parties in South Sudan, particularly with the beginning of the dry season,

He said: "I urge the Security Council, regional leaders and the international community to make it clear to President Kiir and Riek Machar that initiation of a military offensive will carry serious consequences."
-0- PANA MA 20Dec2016

20 december 2016 07:15:20

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