The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Gary Quinlan (Australia):
On 4 November, the United Nations Security Council was briefed by United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ellen Margrethe Løj and UNMISS Force Commander Lieutenant-General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam, by videoconference from Juba, on the situation in South Sudan.
The members of the Security Council expressed their alarm and outrage at the resumption of hostilities between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition forces in Bentiu and Rubkhona, Unity State, South Sudan on 26-30 October, and along the Sobat River in Upper Nile State on 2 November. The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms these acts that resulted in the death and injury of civilians, violated cessation of hostilities agreements, and demonstrated an absence of commitment by both sides to peace and the political process. The members of the Security Council also underscored their grave concern that the fighting took place next to the UNMISS camp in Bentiu sheltering more than 49,000 internally displaced persons. They further underlined that these new hostilities are magnifying an already serious humanitarian crisis which has displaced a total of more than 1.8 million South Sudanese.
The members of the Security Council strongly demanded an immediate end to all violence, and reiterated their demand to end human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. They confirmed their intention to commence negotiations, in consultation with relevant partners, including the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and African Union, on all appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions against those impeding the peace process. They also renewed their call upon the Government of South Sudan to take steps to ensure the safety of all civilians, to swiftly investigate these incidents, and to bring the perpetrators of these heinous acts to justice.
The members of the Security Council confirmed their strong support of the IGAD mediation effort and looked forward to the results of the forthcoming investigation from the IGAD Monitoring and Verification Mechanism on the outbreak of violence. The members of the Security Council welcomed the next IGAD Summit currently scheduled for 6 November, to press President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar to urgently reach agreement on inclusive and comprehensive arrangements for a Transitional Government of National Unity. The members of the Security Council called upon the parties to engage fully in ongoing peace talks, ensure that those talks are inclusive, uphold their commitment to establish a Transitional Government of National Unity, and finalize appropriate arrangements without further delay.
The members of the Security Council reiterated their steadfast support for UNMISS and its vital mission on behalf of the international community to protect civilians in South Sudan, conduct human rights monitoring and investigations, facilitate humanitarian assistance to populations in need, and support monitoring of the cessation of hostilities agreement. They condemned the recent detentions of three UNMISS personnel and the kidnappings of two United Nations-affiliated personnel. The members of the Security Council demanded their immediate and safe release, and called upon the Government of South Sudan to swiftly investigate these incidents and to ensure that justice is served.
The members of the Council renewed their demand that all parties cooperate fully with UNMISS and respect the inviolability of UNMISS protection sites. They condemned violations of the Status of Forces Agreement and stressed that threats and attacks on United Nations personnel and facilities are unacceptable and may constitute a violation of international law. They also expressed their concern about the increased harassment and targeting of non-governmental organizations and humanitarian workers, as well as journalists, in South Sudan.
The members of the Security Council took note with interest of the UNMISS human rights division’s important investigations of human rights abuses and violations, including those during the recent violence, and the planned release of the next UNMISS human rights report before the end of this year. They also affirmed support for efforts to investigate and document violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses committed during the armed conflict, and hold those responsible accountable. The members of the Security Council also looked forward to the final report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry.