United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the signing by former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar and the Former Detainees of the compromise peace agreement put forth by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Partners Forum (IGAD) mediation, meant to end the conflict raging in the country for the past 20 months.
“He takes note that President Salva Kiir initialled a copy of the agreement with some reservations [and] expresses his strong hope that President Kiir will sign the agreement by the end of the 15-day deadline,” said a statement released in New York by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.
According to media reports, Mr. Kiir, who initialled but has not yet signed the agreement, has asked for an additional two weeks to consult with his constituencies. Thanking the IGAD mediation for its “tireless” efforts to assist the parties reach agreement, the Secretary-General is encouraged by the regional and international consensus in support of the agreement, which the United Nations also signed as a witness, the statement added.
He reaffirmed the continued readiness of the UN to work with IGAD, the African Union and other international partners to finalize the agreement and move swiftly towards its implementation.
“Deeply pained” by the “horrendous” suffering of South Sudanese civilians, the Secretary-General called on all belligerents to immediately cease all hostilities, uphold international human rights and humanitarian law, and extend their full cooperation to UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and to the Humanitarian Country Team’s “life-saving activities” there.
The security situation in South Sudan has deteriorated steadily over the past year since political in-fighting between President Kiir and Mr. Machar, and their respective factions erupted in December 2013. The hostilities subsequently turned into a full-fledged conflict, resulting in reported atrocities and possible war crimes.
According to the latest estimates released by the UN refugee agency, more than 730,000 people have fled into neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, which has seen the highest arrival rate this year. Meanwhile, another 1.5 million remain internally displaced, often relocated to increasingly overcrowded ‘protection-of-civilians’ sites run by UNMISS.