On a visit to South Sudan, the United Nations Security Council today reiterated that it is ready to impose sanctions against anyone who undermines the ongoing peace talks to stop the conflict which has uprooted some 1.5 million people and placed more than 7 million at risk of hunger and disease.
Speaking to the press in the capital Juba, Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council for August, reread a statement in which the members on Friday had expressed readiness to consider “all appropriate measures” against those who undermine the peace, stability and security of the country.
“This is a very clear statement by all 15 members of the Security Council that there will be consequences for those who try to undermine agreements that are reached in the Addis Ababa talks,” Mr. Grant said, speaking alongside Foreign Minister Barbaba Marial Benjamin.
The Addis Ababa talks are being facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Mr. Grant is joined on the visit – which also includes stops in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Somalia – by Ambassadors Eugene Richard Gasana of Rwanda and Samantha Power of the United States.
Earlier today, Security Council representatives met with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and members of the Council of Ministers.
“They were good meetings – open, instructive and candid,” Mr. Gasana said. He added that the Council was able to express its concern for the continued suffering of the people, while also listening to the views of the Government.
The Ambassadors are due to meet tomorrow with former Vice President Riek Machar.
Political infighting between President Kiir and Mr. Machar started in mid-December 2013 and has since turned into a full-fledged conflict that also sent nearly 100,000 civilians fleeing to UN peacekeeping bases around the country.
Addressing the press, Ms. Power called this an “emergency visit” to underscore to the South Sudanese leadership the importance of compliance with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar had signed on 23 January.
The visit is also meant to highlight the importance of organizing a governing body in the run-up to the election scheduled for next year. The deadline for organizing such a body passed on Sunday.
“The international community will not tolerate the violation of the secession of hostility and the people who spoil the peace agreement people who commit growth violation of human rights must be held accountable,” Ms. Power said.
The Security Council, in a statement last week, strongly condemned reports of ongoing human rights violations and abuses of international humanitarian law, including those involving extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, sexual and gender-based violence, recruitment and use of children, and enforced disappearances, among others.
Following the press conference, the Ambassadors met with displaced persons in a UN Protection of Civilians site in Malakal, Upper Nile State, in the north of the country.
The Ambassadors said they were “distressed and angry” by what they saw, according to UNIFEED.
“One of the reasons that we have come to South Sudan is because we are responsible for peace and security across the world and we have not seen peace and security in this country,” said Mr. Grant.
The Council representatives said they were alarmed by reports that arms were coming into South Sudan to set the stage for more battles when the dry season begins, UNIFEED reported.