December 20, 2016 (JUBA)- The United Nations Security Council should impose an arms embargo on South Sudan to prevent the likely occurrence of a genocide in the world’s youngest nation, the outgoing United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon said.
“If we fail to act, South Sudan will be on a trajectory towards mass atrocities,” he told the 15-member Security Council in New York on Monday.
The UN secretary General’s plea comes weeks after the world body’s special adviser on prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, expressed fears of genocide occurring, following a tour of the young nation.
“I am afraid that process is about to begin unless immediate action is taken,” said the outgoing secretary general, adding, “The security council must take steps to stem the flow of arms to South Sudan.”
However, South Sudan’s ambassador to the UN, denied reports claiming genocide was in the process of occurring in the country.
South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, descended into violence in December 2013, when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir clashed with those allied to his former Vice-President, Riek Machar in the capital, Juba, leaving hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
In August last year, the two rival factions signed a shaky peace deal mediated by regional leaders, which has not halted the civil war.
According to Ki-moon, there are reports to the effect that President Kiir and his loyalists are “contemplating a new military offensive in the coming days against the armed opposition forces led by Machar.
“Moreover, there are clear indications that Riek Machar and other opposition groups are pursuing a military escalation,” he stressed.
In the past, both the UN and United States have called for an arms embargo on the oil-producing nation, despite opposition from Russia and China, two of the Security Council members with veto powers.
Currently, there is a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force deployed in South Sudan, with a renewed mandate to prevent occurrence of sexual violence as well as protect the civilians in the country.
A UN-mandated regional protection force is yet to deploy in the young nation.