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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs