South Sudan dismisses UN experts’ fear of return to civil war

Sunday September 22 2019

A refugee fleeing fighting in Lasu, South Sudan, after crossing the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, near Aba, on December 23, 2017.

A refugee fleeing fighting in Lasu, South Sudan, after crossing the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, near Aba, on December 23, 2017. South Sudan has dismissed a United Nations report alleging a return to full-scale war in the country. PHOTO | AFP 

JOHN ADUKATA
By JOHN ADUKATA
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South Sudan has dismissed a United Nations report alleging a return to full-scale war in the country.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Makol Mawien said the UN was misleading the world on the situation in the country.

United Nations Human Rights experts early last week expressed fear over the potential return to full-scale war in South Sudan.

The experts put out a statement in the media that there was some risk that hardliners could sabotage progress towards implementation of the 2018 peace agreement.

They claimed the recruitment of children into armed ranks by the various factions in South Sudan fighting was a clear indication of a country plunging back into civil war.

But Mr Mawien said the UN report was false and lacks basis of credibility.

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He said Juba was busy implementing the revitalised peace in order to restore lasting stability in the state.

According to the UN statistics, the crisis in South Sudan is Africa’s largest refugee challenge, with nearly 2 million civilians internally displaced and more than 2 million living as refugees in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It is worth noting that the renewed fighting between National Salvation Front led by Thomas Cirillo and government forces was making a return unsafe or impossible for some displaced people to their homes.

'DELIBERATE STRATEGY'

The group of human-rights experts have appealed to the Member States of the Human Rights Council to help find a durable solution to the conflict.

While the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, Yasmin Sooka welcomed the announcement by President Salva Kiir and Dr Riek Machar that they would meet the November deadline to form a National Unity Government, she said time was running out for key issues to be resolved.

She was speaking at the 42nd UN Human Rights Council session held in Geneva on Monday.

With the political elite seemingly oblivious to the intense suffering of millions of their own people, Mrs Sooka pointed that South Sudan leaders were still no committed to real peace and stability.

The Commission highlighted continuing violence, hunger, displacement and fear in the conflict, which broke out in December 2013.

“Hunger has become the norm,” the Mrs Sooka said, adding that both government and opposition forces were deliberately preventing the delivery of aid.

“Starvation in South Sudan is neither random nor accidental. It has been part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the warring parties to target civilians. Such acts may amount to war crimes,” she warned.

The crisis in South Sudan has created Africa’s largest refugee crisis, with nearly two million civilians internally displaced and more than two million living as refugees in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Central African Republic, and the DR Congo.

More than 63 per cent of those displaced are children. While some had tried to return home, renewed fighting in some areas made return unsafe or impossible.

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