South Sudan: Security Council Press Statement
The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President U. Joy Ogwu (Nigeria):
On 23 April, the members of the Security Council were briefed by UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous and UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović on the situation in South Sudan.
The members of the Security Council expressed horror and anger at the mass violence in Bentiu on 14-16 April that resulted in the death of more than 200 men, women and children. They deplored strongly the systematic targeting of civilians based on their ethnicity; the pursuit and execution of civilians inside places of safety, including a mosque, a church, and a hospital; and the use of radio broadcasts to foment hate and sexual violence. The members of the Security Council also underlined their grave concern that more than 23,000 internally displaced persons are now seeking shelter and assistance at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Bentiu further magnifying an already dire humanitarian crisis.
The members of the Security Council also renewed their strong condemnation of the 17 April attack against the UNMISS compound in Bor that resulted in scores of dead and injured, including those seeking the shelter and protection of the United Nations. They also expressed grave concern regarding the threats made to oil installations, petroleum companies and their employees, and urged all parties to ensure the security of economic infrastructure.
The members of the Security Council strongly reiterated their demand for an immediate end to all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and expressed their readiness to consider appropriate measures against those responsible. They also renewed their call upon the Government of South Sudan to immediately 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 reiterated their full support for UNMISS peacekeepers and for the vital mandate they are performing to protect civilians in South Sudan, including foreign nationals.
The members of the Security Council demanded that President Salva Kiir, former Vice-President Riek Machar, and other political leaders demonstrate leadership by publicly stating that any and all attacks on civilians are unacceptable, committing to hold accountable those who order such attacks or carry them out, immediately ending the violence, and returning to the inclusive peace process mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). The members of the Security Council also called on all parties to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law, to end intimidation and harassment and verbal attacks against UNMISS, to urgently allow UNMISS to fully implement its mandate, and to refrain from any violence or antagonistic rhetoric directed against UNMISS.
The members of the Security Council requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake immediately an investigation mission focused on events in Bentiu, and that ASG Šimonović return to South Sudan as soon as possible to assess recent developments and report back to the Security Council.
The members of the Security Council welcomed the UNMISS human rights division’s valuable investigation of these events and the release of the final UNMISS human rights report at the end of April. They also welcomed the African Union Commission of Inquiry’s first mission currently underway in South Sudan, and offered full support for the Commission’s work to ensure reconciliation and accountability for violation of international humanitarian law, human rights violations and abuses committed during the armed conflict.
The members of the Security Council indicated their willingness to take additional measures should attacks on civilians and violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement continue.