thumb http://channelingerik.com/wp-admin/includes/image-edit.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Ban’s call is in reference with the 10 former cabinet ministers that state security picked from their respective homes and dumped them in government dungeons.
Former cabinet officials who were arrested include; Gier Chuang Aluong (Roads and Bridges), Majak d’Agoot (Defense), Dr Cirino Hiteng (Culture, Children and sports), Deng Alor Kuor (cabinet affairs), John Luk Jok (Justice), Kosti Manibe (Finance and Economic Planning) and Madut Biar (Telecommunication and postal service).
Prof Adwok Nyaba, the former minister of education and technology was too arrested and later released but his colleagues remain languishing in government cells.
At first, Rebecca Garang and Riek Machar used the arrests to turn down IGAD’s mediation for peace talks stating that they can only dialogue when the ministers have been released.
President Kiir immediately refused the condition saying he is ready for talks but won’t take any conditions from the rebels.
Ban has reiterated his call for talks urging President Kiir to free the prisoners, if that is what it will take to restore peace in South Sudan.
Ban spoke by phone with Mr. Kiir yesterday, welcoming his declared commitment to cease hostilities and readiness to engage opposition leaders in dialogue and encouraging him to consider the early release of political prisoners.
He reiterated full UN support for mediation efforts by the East African regional bloc known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and called for full cooperation by all parties in finding a peaceful solution.
He also stressed the need to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on civilians.
A lot of the reinforcements are being seconded from other UN peacekeeping missions in Darfur, Liberia, Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire, but these missions cannot supply all the necessary equipment such as a level-two field hospital and tactical helicopters.
Mr. Gerard Araud, the Permanent Representative of France which holds this month’s rotating Council presidency, said Mr. Ban wrote to the Council asking for attack helicopters.
In authorising the increase in UNMISS last week, the Council stressed its priority role in protecting civilians.
There is still a lot of fighting going on around Bor, capital of Jonglei state, where 20,000 civilians have sought shelter on UN bases, and within the city of Malakal, where 22,000 others have fled to UN bases there, Mr. Araud said.
In Bentiu, in the country’s oil-producing north, where oil production has ceased, Government forces are positioned to take the city.
The human rights situation is “also pretty worrying. There are reports of torturing, killing, disappearance and of ethnically targeted violence,” Mr. Araud noted, adding that the UNMISS human rights component has been upgraded so that there will be accountability for rights violations.
On political front, the Council expressed support for IGAD’s mediation efforts which are being carried out by Ethiopia and Kenya.
Asked about an apparent increase in fighting even as IGAD tries to secure a peaceful solution, Mr. Araud said: “The general impression is, unfortunately, that for the moment, the two sides are determined, on the Government side to restore as much as it can of its authority.
It’s difficult, before going into negotiation; unfortunately, usually fighters are increasing their fighting to try to gain the upper hand for the negotiation, so it’s difficult to know whether it’s simply for the last round before going into negotiation or whether the sides have decided to fight to the last ditch.
But what we heard from the two sides is their availability for the negotiation.
On the humanitarian front, aid agencies have reached an estimated 106,000 displaced people so far with food, water, sanitation and health care, both inside and outside UN peacekeeping bases.
They have delivered high-energy biscuits to children and are working on establishing malnutrition screening and treatment centres in Juba.
Thousands of children under 15-years of age will receive measles and polio vaccines at the peacekeeping base in Tomping, Juba.
Aid organisations have appealed for a total of $209 to provide immediate assistance to families over the next three months. They have received only $43m so far.