South Sudan

S.Sudan On Verge of Catastrophe-Navi

more about geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>High Commissioner Pillay said she was greatly saddened that her second visit to the country was the result of a drastic deterioration of the situation, with a full-blown internal conflict currently taking place, accompanied by numerous grave human rights violations.

“Virtually everything I have seen or heard on this mission has reinforced the view that the country’s leaders, instead of seizing their chance to steer their impoverished and war-battered young nation to stability and greater prosperity, have embarked on a personal power struggle that has brought their people to the verge of catastrophe,” she said at a press conference at the end of her visit.

Ms. Pillay, who met with both President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar during her two-day visit, said both sides have assured her and the UN Special Envoy for the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, that they are carrying out investigations into killings of civilians.

“If the people of South Sudan are to believe that there is accountability, these investigations must move swiftly beyond statements of intent into action,” she said, noting that without accountability, there is nothing to deter others from committing similar summary executions and mass killings.

“The legacy of impunity is one of the factors behind the current tragedy,” she said.

“It’s vital to ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated in order to promote sustainable peace.”

“If, in the very near future, there is no peace deal, no accountability, no space to rebuild trust and promote reconciliation and insufficient funds to cope with a looming disaster, I shudder to think where South Sudan is heading,” she added.

The High Commissioner said that if famine takes hold in South Sudan, the leaders who agreed to a cessation of hostilities and then failed to observe it would be responsible.

She said she is appalled by the “lukewarm” reactions of both leaders to a call for a month-long truce to allow people to go home to plant.

“Both leaders said they would if the other did, then made it clear they did not trust each other’s words,” she said.

“The prospect of widespread hunger and malnutrition being inflicted on hundreds of thousands of their people because of their personal failure to resolve their differences peacefully did not appear to concern them very much.”

Ms. Pillay noted that long-suffering South Sudanese citizens deserved better, not only from their leaders, but also from the international community, which she said has been slow to act.

As an example of such slowness, she cited the fact that since the Security Council approved an increase of UNMISS peacekeepers to 12,500, contributing countries have still only supplied one third of the desperately needed troops.

The High Commissioner also urged donor countries to respond quickly to an appeal for funding for humanitarian action, and to lend “their full political weight to the peace effort”.

“How much worse does it have to get before those who can bring this conflict to an end, especially President Kiir and Dr. Machar, decide to do so?” she asked.



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