News / Africa

    UN Rights Chief Blames South Sudan Crisis on Country's Leaders

    UN human rights chief Navi Pillay meets with South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar at an undisclosed location.
    UN human rights chief Navi Pillay meets with South Sudanese opposition leader Riek Machar at an undisclosed location.
    Charlton Doki
    The United Nations' human rights chief, Navi Pillay, lashed out Wednesday at South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar, saying the two men have allowed their personal differences to bring the young nation to the edge of disaster.

    "The country’s leaders, instead of seizing their chance to steer their impoverished and war-battered young nation to stability and greater prosperity, have instead embarked on a personal power struggle that has brought their people to the verge of catastrophe," Pillay told reporters in Juba.

    "The deadly mix of recrimination, hate speech, and revenge killings that has developed relentlessly over the past four and a half months seems to be reaching boiling point," she said. Pillay voiced concern that neither South Sudan’s political leaders nor the international community understand "how dangerous the situation now is." 

    Pillay was speaking on the final day of a three-day visit to South Sudan, which she made at the request of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The U.N. leader asked her to "personally to come and talk to the country’s leaders" and investigate mass killings in the towns of Bentiu and Bor.

    Ban's Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, accompanied Pillay on the trip. The two U.N. envoys held talks in Juba with Kiir and members of his government before travelling to an undisclosed location where they met with Machar. 

    En route to the meeting with the opposition leader, they stopped at the U.N. base in Bor, where scores of civilians were killed two weeks ago in an attack.
    Adama Dieng, the special advisor to the UN Secretary General for the prevention of genocide, addresses a news conference in Juba, South Sudan, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.Adama Dieng, the special advisor to the UN Secretary General for the prevention of genocide, addresses a news conference in Juba, South Sudan, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
    x
    Adama Dieng, the special advisor to the UN Secretary General for the prevention of genocide, addresses a news conference in Juba, South Sudan, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
    Adama Dieng, the special advisor to the UN Secretary General for the prevention of genocide, addresses a news conference in Juba, South Sudan, on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
    "We listened to the concerns of some of the survivors and heard their descriptions of this brutal assault (in Bor), which appeared to have the sole aim of killing as many civilians in the camp as possible on the basis of their ethnicity," Pillay told reporters.

    At the meeting with Machar, the U.N. officials and opposition leader discussed the killings of civilians in Bentiu, which have been blamed on rebel forces. Hundreds of people, including civilians who sheltered in a mosque, a church and a hospital, are said to have been killed in attacks when the Unity state capital fell to opposition forces two weeks ago.

    Pillay welcomed Machar's assurances "that he is carrying out his own investigation into what happened and that he will do his utmost to stop his forces from committing revenge attacks on civilians."

    She also said government officials gave her assurances that they have launched an investigation into the mass killings of civilians in Juba, where the conflict first erupted in in mid-December.

    Pillay called for the investigations to be swift and thorough, and for those found to be responsible for the violence to be held accountable.
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks to journalists in Juba on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks to journalists in Juba on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
    x
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks to journalists in Juba on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay speaks to journalists in Juba on Wednesday, April 30, 2014.
    "Without accountability, there is nothing to deter others from committing similar summary executions and mass killings," she warned.

    Dieng echoed Pillay's call for "those responsible for serious violations" to be held accountable.

    "The world is watching," he said, calling for an immediate end to the violence.
     

    Leaders appear unconcerned about famine risk


    Pillay said she was "appalled by the apparent lack of concern she saw in both Kiir and Machar about the risk of famine" in South Sudan.

    "The prospect of widespread hunger and malnutrition being inflicted on hundreds of thousands of their people because of their personal failure to resolve their differences peacefully did not appear to concern them very much," she said.

    She also chastized the international community for failing to respond to a U.N. call for more funds for humanitarian aid for South Sudan, and for falling short in providing troops for a beefed-up U.N. peacekeeping force in the war-torn country.

    According to Pillay, only a third of the extra 5,500 troops that the U.N. Security Council gave the green light to in December have been deployed in South Sudan.
     
    How much worse does it have to get before those who can bring this conflict to an end, especially President Kiir and Dr. Machar, decide to do so?
    Having more peacekeepers on the ground could save lives, as did "the strong intervention of Indian peacekeepers" at the U.N. base in Bor, which Pillay credited with saving hundreds of lives during the attack two weeks ago.

    She also singled out UNMISS for praise, saying the U.N. Mission had "unquestionably saved thousands of lives when it opened the gates of ... its compounds to people fleeing deadly attacks."

    But even with the life-saving actions of the U.N., the statistics about South Sudan are grim, Pillay said.

    Some 80,000 people are sheltering at eight U.N. compounds; more than 9,000 children have been recruited by both sides to fight in the conflict; 32 schools have been taken over by military forces, and more than 20 attacks have been launched on clinics and health centres, Pillay said.

    "Many women and girls have been raped, often brutally and sometimes by several fighters. Others have been abducted. Children have also been killed during indiscriminate attacks on civilians by both sides," she added.

    "How much worse does it have to get before those who can bring this conflict to an end, especially President Kiir and Dr. Machar, decide to do so?”

    Pillay and Dieng left Wednesday for Addis Ababa, where slow-moving peace talks for South Sudan resumed this week.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.