Renewing its support to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the vital mandate it is performing to protect civilians there, the Security Council today expressed its grave concern over the security and humanitarian situation in the country, which has been torn by “a conflict that is only growing more violent as it nears its 18th month.”
In a statement to the press, the members of the Security Council reiterated their full support for UNMISS and expressed concern about the latest developments in South Sudan, where the Government decided to expel, on May 29, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Toby Lanzer.
“They underscored that to make such a determination immediately following the … warning by the World Food Programme that South Sudan is facing the worst levels of food insecurity in the young country’s history because of a combination of conflict, high food prices and a worsening economic crisis, shows a disregard for the plight of the South Sudanese people.”
Since the beginning of the year, some 60,000 civilians have fled the country, mostly to Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda bringing the total number of people who fled since the start of the conflict December 2013 to 555,000. Some 1.5 million are internally displaced and more than 3.8 million – a third of the country’s population of 11 million – do not have sufficient food.
The statement comes a week after the Security Council extended the mandate of UNMISS until 30 November 2015, giving the operation authorization to use all necessary means to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, and create the conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Today, Council members demanded that all parties end “intimidation and harassment” against UNMISS and humanitarian personnel, cease ongoing restrictions on freedom of movement, and “allow the Mission to fully implement its mandate.”
In the press statement, Council members condemned “in the strongest terms” the repeated violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement by the Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army soldiers (SPLM/A), the opposition group. On May 28, the very same day UNMISS mandate was extended for a year, SPLM/A soldiers exchanged gunfire into the Mission Protection of Civilians site in Malakal, injuring three civilians and one peacekeeper, an incident also condemned by the Council.
“The members of the Security Council reiterated their call upon the Government of South Sudan to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of all civilians and UNMISS Protection of Civilian sites …, to swiftly investigate these incidents, and to bring the perpetrators of these egregious acts to justice. In this regard, they underlined their willingness to impose sanctions against those who threaten the peace, security or stability of South Sudan.”
Finally, the Council called upon all parties to engage meaningfully in the peace process so as to bring about a political solution to the crisis and an end to the conflict.