A UN report warned Monday that the slow implementation of a revitalised peace accord in South Sudan is putting the country at risk of relapse into a "large-scale conflict."
In light of recent calls for the country's leaders to step down, UN experts in charge of overseeing sanctions and an arms embargo said that "urgent engagement is needed to avert a return to large-scale conflict."
In the document, which was recently submitted to the Security Council, the experts called for "renewed momentum from regional and international partners to de-escalate the growing security and political fractures in South Sudan."
The experts also called for the arms embargo, which is set to expire at the end of May, to be kept in place and for new sanctions against those hindering implementation of the revived 2018 peace Agreement and obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The experts also called for an independent assessment of how the government is managing its arms stockpiles.
"Since February 2020, the slow pace of reforms by the Government of South Sudan and its selective implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan has hindered improvements in the protection of civilians and prospects for long-term peace," the report said.
More than a year of political disputes over how to implement the renewed peace accord "has widened existing political, military and ethnic divisions in the country," the experts said.
Those disputes had triggered "multiple incidents of violence between the two main signatories," the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by President Salva Kiir and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-Army in Opposition, led by Vice-President Riek Machar.
As a result, the people of South Sudan "are in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021 than ever before," the report said.
"Despite the humanitarian needs of 8.5 million people, the Government has imposed bureaucratic barriers to the delivery of humanitarian aid, and ongoing conflict has prevented its safe delivery," it added.
South Sudan suffered six years of bloodshed that cost nearly 400,000 lives and drove four million people from their homes before the conflict officially ended with the creation of a power-sharing national unity government in February 2020.