May 28, 2014 (JUBA) – A United Nations peacekeeper was injured when shots were fired outside the UN compound in the Upper Nile state capital, Malakal on Thursday.
“The mission is deeply concerned that despite reassurances given by both parties, such an incident occurred this afternoon and reiterates its strong call upon all the parties to respect the sanctity of UN installations and staff,” Stephane Dujarric, a UN spokesperson, revealed.
Meanwhile, senior UN officials warned of the renewed attacks against the civilian population, especially women and children, in the armed conflict in South Sudan
The UN special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, her counterpart for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, executive director of UN women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN special adviser on prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng and his counterpart on the responsibility to protect, Jennifer Welsh issued the joint statement on 18 May.
“We are deeply concerned at reports of escalating violence against the civilian population in the context of the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, particularly against women and children,” it reads in part.
According to the joint UN statement, since the middle of April 2015, reports have indicated that serious violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law have taken place and are ongoing, as fighting intensifies between forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army–In Opposition (SPLA-IO) in Unity and Upper Nile States.
“We are appalled at the large scale, widespread nature of the violations and abuses reported, including extra judicial killings, the abduction of women and children, rape and other forms of sexual violence, recruitment and use of children, looting and destruction of property,” reads the joint release also extended to Sudan Tribune.
Fighting has exacerbated an already dire economic and humanitarian situation by reducing humanitarian space and depriving people of essential humanitarian assistance.
We continue to remind the political and military leadership of the SPLA and SPLA-IO of their responsibilities, in line with international law, including their responsibility to ensure the full protection of the civilian population, especially women and children, from violence and to spare them the effects of hostilities, the UN officials stressed.
“The Government of South Sudan bears the primary responsibility for protecting its population from serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. We therefore call upon the Government to exercise that responsibility,” the statement said.
“The SPLA and SPLA-IO leaders must immediately put a stop to ongoing violations and abuses, issue clear orders for the immediate release of children associated with their forces and prohibiting sexual violence crimes,” it further stressed.
They urged the UN Security Council, African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), neighbouring countries and other relevant stakeholders, especially those involved in the mediation process, to reinforce engagements with the SPLA and SPLA-IO in order to de-escalate the current situation, prevent further violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and move the mediation process forward.
“It is the collective responsibility of the international community to take decisive steps to end the protracted suffering of the South Sudanese people, especially the women and children who are disproportionately affected by the recent clashes,” they argued.
Talks between the country’s two warring parties are due to resume early next month.