Fighting and deadly attacks against innocent civilians continue in South Sudan, despite an agreement signed on January 23 to cease hostilities.
Fighting and deadly attacks against innocent civilians continue in South Sudan, despite an agreement signed on January 23 to cease hostilities. Elements of both sides in the conflict have ignored the agreement, inflicting much pain and suffering. The resumption of hostilities have cast a pall over peace talks being held in Ethiopia to seek a political settlement to the crisis, but it is hoped they will resume after negotiators confer with their respective leaders.
The United States is following the situation closely and is deeply concerned by reports of serious human rights abuses and violations committed by both parties. A true cessation of hostilities is our government's most pressing priority and we are providing $6 million to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help achieve it.
The group, also known as IGAD, is moderating the peace talks and now setting up a verification mechanism to monitor and identify violators. This will be key to making the ceasefire work and in turn draw attention back to the larger issue at hand, achieving an inclusive and lasting political settlement.
The IGAD mediators have proposed a meaningful political dialogue between the two parties, but one that also draws in a broad representation of stakeholders. The roots of this crisis run deep, reaching well back before fighting erupted in mid-December. Many historical grievances remained after creation of the new nation in 2011. On top of that, the government progressively reduced the ability for political activists, media and civil society to voice their concerns.
When negotiations resume, the political settlement must be more than a quick fix. Accommodating the two parties and their immediate needs will not bring a sustainable peace. A spectrum of South Sudanese stakeholders must be brought into the process and allowed to take part in national affairs. Reconciliation must also follow, as well as accountability for the serious human rights abuses that have occurred.
Finally, all parties must allow immediate and unconditional access for aid groups to assist the hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians who are the real victims of the violence, a humanitarian crisis that will only intensify in the coming months with the return of the rainy season.