The International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) has expressed shock and outrage at the resumption of hostilities in and around Juba, capital city of the Republic of South Sudan that began on 7 July, 2016 between soldiers of the South Sudan Government and the SPLM in Opposition.
The ICGLR condemned the act of violence, which has a potential of reversing the progress made so far in the peace process, and may result into a severe social and humanitarian crisis, displacement and continued suffering of the populations.
“The ICGLR urges the Government of South Sudan and the leadership of SPLM in Opposition to cease hostilities and work together as partners to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, and allow the people of South Sudan to enjoy peace and stability,” a statement released on Monday said.
The ICGLR called upon IGAD and other stakeholders in the South Sudan peace process to exercise pressure on the parties to stop violence and stick to the spirit of the peace process.
IGAD in an equally charged statement reminded President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar that they signed a peaceful settlement of their differences after the long-drawn out IGAD-led process of mediation and negotiation that culminated in the establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity.
“It was hoped that this process, midwifed by IGAD and its partners in the international community, including the African Union, would bring lasting peace and stability to the people of South Sudan,” Ethiopia Prime Minister Hailemariam also Chairperson of IGAD said on Monday.
“It is deeply unfortunate that barely four months after the return of the SPLM-IO leader to assume his agreed position in government, it appears that hostilities have erupted once again threatening the sustainability of the peace agreement to which all sides have pledged their full commitment.”
Desalegn said the Juba incidents could spiral out of control, once again exposing millions of civilians to senseless violence and the whole country to interminable chaos.
“The leaders of South Sudan can, and must, demonstrate their determination and ability to rise up to this new challenge immediately.”
“As Chairperson of IGAD, I am deeply disturbed by the fighting and the deaths that haveoccurred. I would emphasize that both the Government and the opposition in South Sudan are duty bound to exercise restraint and avoid any measures that are likely to escalate the situation.”
He warned Kiir and Machar not to undermine the firm determination of the regional countries, IGAD and the international community to end to violence and ensure peace and security in South Sudan.
IGAD’s Executive Council will convene shortly to consider the situation on the ground and deliberate on the next course of action.
UN expert appalled by attacks on IDPs and civilians
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani, condemned the recent attacks on IDPs and civilians in South Sudan, and called for the cessation of hostilities and the implementation of the Peace Agreement.
More than 10,000 people may have been displaced in addition to the estimated 30,000 people who were already displaced in Juba, and this number continues to rise according to humanitarian sources.
“I am deeply disturbed by the renewed outbreak of violence in South Sudan, a country which marked its fifth anniversary of independence on Saturday with gunfire instead of celebration”, Mr. Beyani said.
In Wau town, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, villages emptied in recent weeks as civilians fled from violence into the bush.
An estimated 83,000 people are now seeking refuge in churches, schools, and outside the peacekeeping base of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).