Diplomats representing major western powers have strongly condemned human rights violations by South Sudan's government and rebel forces and protested the obstruction of U.N. operations and threats to U.N. personnel in the war-torn country.
In a statement
released Friday, the ambassadors and chargés d'affaires of the United States, United Kingdom and Norway, which make up the so-called South Sudan troika, along with France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and the European Union, reiterate their "support for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and its work on behalf of the international community for the people of South Sudan."
"We strongly condemn the continued obstruction of UNMISS operations by Government and opposition forces and any threats to UNMISS personnel," the statement said, stressing that "all threats and attacks on United Nations personnel and facilities are unacceptable and may constitute violations of international law."
The 10 nations and E.U. condemned both the government and opposition forces for human rights abuses and for "violations of international humanitarian law that have resulted in the loss of lives, and internal displacements as well as refugees along the borders in neighboring nations."
The statement was released more than two months after the signing of a peace agreement for South Sudan, and as the United Nations reported that the number of people who have been forced from their homes in the young country has passed the one million mark.
Internally displaced people carry water from outside as they walk toward the entrance of a United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan base in Malakal, Feb. 6, 2014.
The U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
said last week that 803,200 people have been displaced inside South Sudan and 254,600 have ﬂed to neighboring countries.
The Western nations and E.U. expressed "concern at the dire humanitarian situation" and urged all parties to urgently allow humanitarian organizations unhindered access to populations in need.
The statement also called on the warring parties to take part in peace talks in Addis Ababa, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). Western governments were "deeply concerned" by violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on Jan. 23, which called for an immediate halt to all fighting, it said.
The cessation of hostilities pact has been violated numerous times since it was signed, with each side blaming the other for the breaches.
Tens of thousands of people are thought to have died in the conflict in South Sudan, which broke out on Dec. 15.
The statement by the troika is available here.