Notes to correspondents
Note to Correspondents on South Sudan
New York, 24 December 2013
On the situation in South Sudan, the Secretary-General has been speaking to many leaders, reaching out for their support for bolstering the capacity of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (UNMISS) to allow it to do its utmost to protect civilians and for stepping up efforts to find a political solution to the crisis.
So far, the Secretary-General has spoken with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; Hailemariam Dessalegn, Chairperson of the African Union and Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda, President of Malawi; Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of Tanzania; Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan; Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh; and Khil Raj Regmi, Prime Minister of Nepal.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today expressed grave concern over the serious and growing human rights violations which have taken place over the past 10 days, calling on the leadership of both sides to protect civilians and refrain from instigating violence based on ethnic grounds. She said that mass extrajudicial killings, the targeting of individuals on the basis of their ethnicity and arbitrary detentions have been documented in recent days, adding that a mass grave has been discovered in Bentiu, Unity State, with at least two others reportedly in Juba.
For their part, the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect today voiced their concern over the serious risk of an escalation of inter-communal violence, noting that targeted attacks against civilians and UN personnel could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. They urged all parties to exercise restraint and to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law and underscored the responsibility of the Government to protect all South Sudanese populations, irrespective of their ethnicity or political affiliation.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that some 81,000 people have been displaced by the crisis in South Sudan, but that the real number is likely to be higher. OCHA says that 45,000 people have sought refuge in UNMISS camps, while access to those outside has been limited due to continued insecurity.
The Office said that the humanitarian response to help some 20,000 displaced people in two UNMISS bases in Juba is gaining momentum, with registration underway and food distributions ongoing. More than 2,200 families received food on 22 and 23 December in Juba, while food aid has been distributed to 7,000 civilians sheltering at the UNMISS base in Bentiu on 22 December.
A mobile clinic is operational and conducted 200 medical consultations on 23 December at an UNMISS base in Juba.
Displaced families in Juba have received mosquito nets, blankets, sleeping mats, soap and kitchen sets, and additional items are being pre-positioned for distribution in the coming days.