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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid