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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid