Key Official Says S Sudan Unity Government Within Reach

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Source:   —  April 01, 2016, at 9:36 AM

Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana, told the U. N. Security Council that despite continuing cease-fire violations "there has been notable progress." S Sudan has been at war since December two thousand thirteen as government forces faithful to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battle rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer.

The head of an international grouping monitoring S Sudan'south peace process said Thursday the formation of a transitional national unity government in S Sudan was presently within reach.

Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana, told the U. N. Security Council that despite continuing cease-fire violations "there has been notable progress."

S Sudan has been at war since December two thousand thirteen as government forces faithful to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battle rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting and over two million displaced.

Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal in August two thousand fifteen, but fighting has continued, even after Kiir named Machar as his vice president again on Feb. eleven. While accepting the post, Machar hasn't yet arrived in the capital, Juba, mainly because of security concerns.

U. N. messenger Ellen Margrethe Loj said S Sudan is at "a critical juncture," and sustained progress requires both leaders to form the transitional government without delay and demonstrate "the bravery to compromise for the sake of peace."

She stressed that a transitional government is fundamental to the country'south longer-term stability but it'south just a first step.

When Machar returns to Juba to form the transitional government with Kiir, Loj said, "the tough work of rebuilding the country has to start, and challenging decisions should be taken."

She said humanitarian needs are escalating across the country and "the dramatic deterioration of the economic situation" could've security implications.

U. N. humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien said six million people — more than half of S Sudan'south population — necessity aid as a result of the deepening humanitarian crisis. That figure includes "a staggering 2.8 million people (who) are severely food insecure," he said.

Despite calls for civilians to be respected, O'Brien said "civilians continue to be targeted, attacked and displaced" and the humanitarian situation "remains dire."

He said corruption and illegal taxes "stay rampant," with humanitarian convoys subjected to payments at checkpoints.

"Convoys traveling from Juba to Bentiu by road recently reported over fifty checkpoints, with each truck required to pay a total of more than 30.000 S Sudanese pounds or $1.000," O'Brien said. "Such extortions are unacceptable and must stop."

U. N. deputy human rights chief Kate Gilmore lamented that despite the August two thousand fifteen peace agreement, human rights violations and abuses against civilians continue unabated.

She said high commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein has found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that allegations of "gross violations" may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity.

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