The United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has condemned South Sudanese President Salva Kiir for lack of commitment to end violence in the war-torn country.
Mr Dieng said the peace process has yet to be accompanied by a complete cessation of hostilities, undermining the likelihood that the national dialogue proposed by the government will be seen as credible.
“President Salva Kiir has made a commitment to end the violence and bring about peace, yet we still see ongoing clashes, and the risk that mass atrocities will be committed remains ever-present,” Mr Dieng said.
More than 52,000 South Sudanese are reported to have fled to Uganda in January alone, from towns in the southwest region including Yei, Morobo, Lainya and Kajo-Keji.
The UN said about 24,000 people arrived in Uganda between January 25 and 31, of which 4,500 were received on a single day, January 28.
The displaced gave accounts of civilian killings, destruction of homes, sexual violence, and looting of livestock and property, and cited fear of arrest and torture, Mr Dieng said.
He said the UN was particularly alarmed at the situation in Kajo-Keji, in Central Equatoria, (south of Juba), where civilians have fled over fear of violence en masse.
“The access of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to and around Kajo-Keji has reportedly been restricted despite the serious security situation, as peacekeepers were initially blocked from accessing the area,” Mr Dieng said.
During the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, the continental bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), and the United Nations in a joint statement expressed their deep concerns over the continuing spread of fighting and risk of inter-communal violence escalating into mass atrocities in South Sudan.
“If South Sudan is to achieve peace,” Mr Dieng said, “all belligerents must urgently cease hostilities and invest in the peace process to settle their differences, before the territorial fragmentation and destruction of the social fabric of this young country become irreversible.”