UNITED NATIONS - The U.N.'s peacekeeping chief said Wednesday that a unilateral cease-fire declared by the government of South Sudan had not materialized, and that the country remained unstable.
"Hostilities have persisted well after the cease-fire commitment made by President Salva Kiir and continue to unfold in various parts of the country," Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the U.N. Security Council.
He said that in the north, South Sudan's army had dislodged opposition forces from their strongholds on the west bank of the Nile River. In the east, it has taken towns in northern Greater Jonglei, while in the west, there have been clashes between government and opposition forces in Wau. In the south, fighting has left towns in the Equatorias virtually deserted by their residents.
"We must not lose sight of the fact that this tragedy is man-made," Lacroix said. He said it was the result of decisions by the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the SPLA-in-Opposition and other entities "to prosecute and sustain armed conflict to achieve political goals."
Aid badly needed
More than three years of fighting between factions loyal to Kiir and his former vice president-turned-political rival, Riek Machar, has left over half the country's population in need of humanitarian assistance.
"In order for the unilateral cease-fire to hold, we call upon the Security Council and the international community to call on the other stakeholders to respect the cease-fire so as to allow the humanitarian actors to pass," South Sudanese envoy Joseph Moum Malok told the council. "From the side of the government, I wish to assure you that we are fully committed to the unilateral cease-fire."
The World Food Program said Wednesday that while conditions had eased in two counties declared to be in a state of famine since February, the situation continued to remain dire across the country as 6 million people struggle to find enough to eat each day. The U.N. has appealed for $1.6 billion this year to assist South Sudan but has received only half the necessary funding.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has traveled to Uganda to attend a refugee summit this week intended to raise billions of dollars to support the nearly 1 million South Sudanese refugees sheltering in that country.