Brussels 03.12.2020 Implementation of South Sudan’s 2018 peace accord has stalled, while the authorities have blocked humanitarian access to areas where conflict has restarted, the U.N. panel of experts said.
Deng Dau Deng, the deputy minister of Foreign affairs, has underlined that the experts themselves had been allowed entry into South Sudan, which shows “that the government of South Sudan is committed to meet the U.N. resolutions on South Sudan”.
Experts have also underlined that there was a lack of transparency in how the government collected and spent oil and other revenues. The government disputed the findings, saying agencies had access to all areas and it was making efforts to make the economy function.
South Sudan erupted into civil war soon after securing independence from Sudan in 2011, leading to an estimated 400,000 deaths and one of the worst refugee crises on the continent since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. A fragile peace accord between President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar was agreed in 2018 and they formed a government of national unity in February, creating a frame for potential peace.
However since then implementation has “mostly stalled, as the signatories have failed to adhere to the deadlines set in the peace agreement and have backtracked on aspects of its political, security and economic provisions,” the U.N. experts said. While the sporadic fighting has erupted in areas across the country, the panel experts found that South Sudan People’s Defence Forces and National Security Service “routinely blocked the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and peace monitors from accessing conflict areas”.
The experts also noted that the government, which relies mainly on oil for its revenue, has turned to resource backed loans and contracts as it struggles to deal with budget deficit projected to hit $700 million.
“South Sudan is cooperative,” he told Reuters on Thursday. “The U.N. mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and other agencies have full access to all the areas.” He also said, without providing details, that his government was working to improve the deficit situation in the country.
The EU gave positive evaluation of the initial steps taken towards the implementation of the ‘Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan’, signed on 12 September under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)’, but Europe expects it should be followed by other actions in the same direction.
“In Juba South Sudanese parties reconfirmed their commitment to the The initial steps taken towards its implementation, are going in the right direction and should be followed by others”, the text of the European Action Service statement says.
“However fighting continues in some areas of the country. It is important that all parties immediately observe the provisions of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of December 2017 and disengage and separate their forces in close proximity as agreed by them. Full and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the country is equally paramount. Recent reports have documented grave human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. We expect all parties to hold perpetrators of violence to account, and ensure that transitional justice and accountability mechanisms are in place for the people of South Sudan.
“The full implementation of actions, such as releasing all prisoners of war and political detainees, would build confidence among South Sudanese parties and with the international community and is critical for an effective peace process, with political and economic inclusiveness, transparency and accountability.
“IGAD and its member states have a central role to ensure that the Agreement is implemented by the parties.The European Union will continue to support the region and to show solidarity with the people of South Sudan and remains committed to accompanying them on their journey towards peace, reconciliation, stability and resilience.
Government and rebel forces in South Sudan abducted hundreds of women and girls this year and many have been raped and forced into sexual slavery, the UN mission to the country informed.
Other young people were forced to become child soldiers, according to a report by the UN Mission in South Sudan, which said that many of those abducted remain in the hands of their captors.
The abuses were committed during a civil war by forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels fighting for Riek Machar. The abductions violate international law and may amount to war crimes, the report said.
“The girls are sometimes only 12 years old and were chosen as wives for the military. They had to parade in front of them and they (soldiers) could choose whomever they wanted. They used them and of course they were raped and (subjected to) sexual slavery,” the report said.
South Sudan’s rebel chief Riek Machar on Tuesday, August 28, refused to sign a final peace deal, which aims to end a brutal civil war, with the government, according to a Sudanese mediator.
The main opposition groups, including the SPLM-IO (Machar faction), refused to sign the final document, demanding guarantees over their reservations, Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed said. “South Sudan will not have peace unless these groups sign,” the mediator added. The warring South Sudanese parties have held weeks of talks in Khartoum in search of a comprehensive peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in the world’s youngest country since it erupted in December 2013, AFP said. Machar and his arch foe, President Salva Kiir, have already inked several agreements, including a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing deal.