South Sudan: Guterres Warns Security Council

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of UN

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned the Security Council against the danger of allowing the conflict in South Sudan to degenerate further.

Guterres, who made the remarks to the Security Council on South Sudan, regretted that the civilian population had continued to bear the brunt of the crisis.

“Civilians continue to be subjected to horrendous attacks, including rape and the recruitment of children.

“More than 1.9 million people are displaced internally, more than 220,000 of whom are seeking safety in protection sites of the UN Mission in South Sudan.

“Some 1.6 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries. The humanitarian crisis continues to deepen.

“One hundred thousand people are enduring famine, one million are on the verge of that fate, and 5.5 million may be severely food insecure by this summer.

“At least 7.5 million people across South Sudan , almost two thirds of the population, need humanitarian assistance.

“Three years of conflict have eroded livelihoods and disrupted farming, including in the Equatorias, the country’s breadbasket,” he said.

The UN chief warned that the peace process in the crisis-hit country remained at a standstill, expressing concerns about President Salva Kiir’s statements regarding his intention to hold a National Dialogue.

“They (statements) are not convincing in the context of ongoing hostilities, the absence of consultation with key stakeholders, the systematic curtailment of basic political freedoms and restrictions on humanitarian access and the growing fragmentation of both sides of the conflict.

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“Indeed, credible dialogue cannot take place at the point of a gun. When civil society and opposition members cannot meet or speak freely; when a significant proportion of the population cannot participate in the discussions.

“And when numerous communities are displaced or facing starvation, dialogue efforts are unlikely to succeed. And the same holds true for elections, which can only take place once stability has returned.”

He pledged that the UN would continue to work for the deployment of a Regional Protection Force, in spite of continuing obstacles imposed by the Government of South Sudan.

He, however, said no such force, and no amount of diplomacy, could substitute for the lack of political will among those who govern the country.

“There is a strong consensus that South Sudanese leaders need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of the country’s people, who are among the poorest in the world.

“If there is to be any hope of those leaders changing their current calculations, greater pressure is needed.

“This means first and foremost that the region and the Security Council must speak with one voice.

“Mr President, let us not underestimate the dangers of South Sudan’s trajectory. Atrocity crimes have occurred with impunity, and the potential for serious deterioration remains very real. Credible mechanisms for accountability are a must.

“For every child who dies, for every woman or girl raped with impunity, for every young boy conscripted into fighting and fed only hatred, angry mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, plunged into sorrow, feeding the cycle of vengeance”.

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