South Sudan: UN chief lauds steps to ending conflict between opposing factions

People fleeing violence in Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, South Sudan, arriving at UNMISS base on 15 April 2014 to seek shelter. Photo: UNMISS/Mihad Abdallah

People fleeing violence in Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, South Sudan, arriving at UNMISS base on 15 April 2014 to seek shelter. Photo: UNMISS/Mihad Abdallah

South Sudan, 8 November 2014 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has applauded the measures adopted by the group of African states working to end the simmering tensions in South Sudan and voiced hope that peace could quickly return to the young country, according to a United Nations spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General commends the strong stance adopted by the [Intergovernmental Authority on Development] (IGAD) Heads of States on the conflict in South Sudan which is in the interest of the people of South Sudan,” read a statement issued by UN spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

South Sudan has experienced several bouts of violence over the past few months, including an incident in which the UN base in Bentiu came under fire resulting in the wounding of one child. Meanwhile, a prior attack caused hundreds of people to seek shelter at the nearest airport. Approximately 340 civilians took shelter with UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) troops, and then were escorted to safety.

In his statement, however, Mr. Ban said he was “encouraged” by the work carried out by IGAD – a group of eight East African nations including governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley, and the Great Lakes Region – and the South Sudanese parties’ stated intention to cease hostilities immediately and reach agreement on an inclusive power sharing arrangement within 15 days.

“The Secretary-General hopes that parties will live up to their stated commitment to peace and meaningfully engage in dialogue in order to reach a comprehensive peace agreement that addresses the root causes of the conflict in South Sudan,” the statement continued.

Political in-fighting between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, started in mid-December 2013 and subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict that has sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UNMISS bases around the country. The crisis has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.